Updated: Aug 3, 2020
By Jules Snarr
We at the Flatirons Young Farmers Coalition feel clear on who we are and what our Mission and our Vision are for the chapter: We are a growing group of farmers and ranchers: beginning, aspiring, established, young and old alike, committed to tending the land and cultivating community. We provide educational and social opportunities for growers to learn and network, and we are united as one strong voice in local, state, and national policy work to ensure the future of agriculture. We envision a burgeoning community of successful farms of all sizes and farmers of all experience levels, and we act as a unifying body for those who wish to support local and regenerative agriculture.
But when the murder of George Floyd brought our collective attention to systemic racism and white supremacy culture, we at FYFC realized we weren’t clear on our role as a chapter in dismantling these systems of racism and oppression, or how that intersected with our work as an agricultural organization. We weren’t sure what to say or exactly what to do, but we knew we had to start somewhere. Out of this came the Racial Equity Discussion Group. Guided by a toolkit recently published by NYFC, we have virtually gathered with the intent of engaging as a community in respectful, open conversation around race, equity, justice, and what we can do as a chapter.
In these discussion groups, we have had conversations driven by vulnerable questions that have come up as we’ve examined and shared our own biases, backgrounds, and experiences around racism and white supremacy. We’ve learned together: we read an article on the beginnings of Boulder County; listened to a radio segment from KGNU about the Sand Creek Massacre training ground that today is Open Space land; learned about the experience of Alfonso Abeyta who was told that “men like you weren’t meant to own land” when he sought a loan for his family farm; watched a video on Indigenous People’s Day in Boulder; and read an article by Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm titled ‘4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System’.
It has been challenging in many ways. Challenging to find the right words. Challenging to sit in discomfort, to feel the weight of truth. Challenging to ask “but what can I do?” and realize that first we need to really, truly educate ourselves. Challenging to acknowledge that Boulder County is on land that is within the territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho peoples. Challenging to feel anger, guilt, shame, confusion, and uncertainty, let alone to have those feelings be witnessed by a group of peers. Challenging to balance the desire to make equity work a priority as a chapter and affect change with not sacrificing inclusivity, bypassing education, or rushing haphazardly just to feel the satisfaction of ‘getting something done.’ Challenging to not know exactly what to do next.
But along with all the challenges, there is also hope, and the desire for change is driving our efforts. We realize we are in the beginning stages of what is a many-years-long journey. Our current focus is to continue to educate ourselves, both on national issues around racism in agriculture as well as issues specific to our area, such as the history of this land and the experiences of BIPOC farmers in our community. We wish to create a well-informed statement of land acknowledgement for our chapter. We’re also spinning around ideas for an educational workshop centering the Indigenous history of this land.
If you have ideas or suggestions for how we as a chapter can continue in this work, please share them. If there are any resources that you’d recommend, please let us know. And if you’re curious about participating in these Racial Equity Discussion Groups, we’d love to have you join us.