By the FYFC Chapter Coordinator, Lauren Dunteman
Founded by farmers in 2016, FYFC seeks to address the challenges and barriers that our local farmers face in starting their own successful, equitable, and regenerative farming operations. From the group who started this chapter to the people we serve, FYFC has always been a grassroots organization.
Yet, as an organization grows, it can be difficult to keep the movement within its roots. I noticed this challenge when I first began my role as the FYFC Chapter Coordinator in May of 2020. Amidst the busyness of the growing season, it was difficult to engage our farmers while they worked long days to keep the animals fed, soil prepped, and community nourished. Our leadership team found ourselves asking, "What is the best way to uplift farmers' voices when asking for their time can be burdensome, especially in the peak of the season?"
While adding my position as a consistent paid role helped to shift the responsibilities away from our actively farming members, a new challenge arose. My role has the capacity to increase the chapter's overall activity within the community. Which, in turn, required more time of our leadership than they had experienced in the past. Furthermore, I am not currently a farmer myself. Having grown up on a farm in the midwest, it is an occupation I can appreciate deeply, yet the unique experiences of those who produce food here are not experiences that I can personally give voice to. Our farmers' voices needed to remain in the chapter's leadership.
Valuing the Farmer's Voice:
To address these challenges, we have expanded our farmer leadership team from four members to six. By doing so, we aim to spread out the responsibility of running the chapter amongst more members so they can remain involved without carrying as much weight. In this new organizational structure, we have a president, vice president, and 4 dedicated farmers as a Chair for each of our committees (Community, Education, Policy, and Development); their responsibility will be to continually uplift the farmer's voice so our advocate members can take actions that best support farmers' needs.
To fundraise for these valuable roles, we'll hold a community drive this February. With the generous cash-match from a local donor, these positions and the upcoming position for Equity and Organizational Change will each receive a 2021 minimum stipend of $1000 as a way to support their consistent engagement in this chapter. Given the time that our current leadership has given to help our chapter grow, providing a stipend feels like an essential step towards appropriately valuing the farmer's voice.
With the recent conclusion of our elections, I'd like to share the outcomes and announce our updates leadership board. To see the exact results of our recent elections, see the bottom of this post.
New positions filled: (2021-2023)
Education Chair: Helen Skiba, Farmette Flowers
Policy Chair: Hannah George
Development Chair: Daniel Golly, MASA Seed Foundation
Continuing Positions: (2020-2022)
President: Andy Breiter, Grama Grass and Livestock
Treasurer: Kris Korba, United Ecology
Community Chair: Jules Snarr, Waldorf School
Available Position: (2021-2023)
Equity and Organizational Change*
To learn more about these leaders, visit our About Us page and find their bios!
*About Equity and Organizational Change:
7 of our chapter members — Shan, Jade, Sam, Xavier, Hannah, Andy, and myself — attended the 2020 NYFC National Convergence: Achieving Racial Equity Through Agriculture. Since then, we have been in discussion about how to appropriately incorporate the values of "Equity and Organizational Change" into our chapter. We have raised funds for a dedicated person (or two co-chairs) to help hold our chapter accountable for incorporating equity into our work. Yet we recognize that equity work needs to be collaborative and integrated across our entire chapter, rather than being the responsibility of a key individual or two. Consequently, we are exploring how to form an Equity Committee that balances the voices of our BIPOC members with other members who are eager to be supportive. As we form this committee, we'll consider how to keep the work integrated through all functions of our chapter, rather than contained only within the silo of that committee.
Given the systemic and historic challenges that are associated with agricultural labor, agricultural land, agricultural funding, and policy, I personally view work towards equity as one of the most important things that I can do in my professional career. I am excited for our chapter's work towards equity, especially as a predominantly white organization in an even more predominantly white county with historic inequities around race and indigenous land.
In order to maintain a democratic process, the previous leadership has decided to release the specific results from the election. The vote results are as follows:
Helen Skiba - 15
Taylor Sanders - 9
Daniel Golly - 24
Hannah George - 18
Liza McConnell - 6
Along with these positions, we also voted to ratify our Drafted Policy Platform, which was unanimously approved with 25 positive votes.
In order to support an inclusive and anonymous election process, our elections took place exclusively online this year. Nominations were accepted from the public, and then the candidates were asked to write a brief statement describing themselves and their interest/qualification for their chosen role. The voting took place online over a two week period through Google Surveys. This process was chosen due to its ability to allow candidates to write and refine their applications in the conform of their own homes, rather than having to speak on the spot in a large group. It was also useful because voting members could take their time to consider their vote rather than making a hurried decision. Thanks again to all who participated!