Food and Land Sovereignty Panel Video of Panel Available Here
Elizabeth Wills-O’Gilvie, Northeast Farmers of Color and Springfield Food Policy Council
Liz O’Gilvie serves as the working chair of the Springfield Food Policy Council, is a school garden teacher and project coordinator in Springfield, board chair of the urban agriculture organization Gardening the Community, and is a member of the “organizing board” of the Northeast Farmers of Color Community Land Trust and co-chairs the PVGrows Racial Equity in the Food System working group. Liz is also the manager and founder of City Soul Farmers Market, started in 2016. In her “paid” work she works with social justice organizations, schools and universities across the country on developing pathways and curriculum for undoing systemic racism and white organizational culture. Her work in the food system, public health and community building is built on lessons learned from brick and mortar development and driven by a commitment to ensure that community change efforts to eradicate health and access disparities move on parallel environmental, systems and policy change tracks; and that those efforts are community-driven with the voices and actions of people most impacted at the center. A critical thinker about issues relating to race, class, gender, culture and privilege, Liz is quite comfortable with the discomfort attached to conversations about race.
Chris Bolden-Newsome, Sankofa Farm of Philadelphia
Chris Bolden Newsome, Co-director of Sankofa Community Farm in Philadelphia, comes from a family with deep roots in farming. “Growing food goes back at least 400 years before me,” says Chris. “We always kept that connection alive.”
Raised in a social justice household by adults who believed they should leave the earth better than they found it, Chris forged his own unique connection between social justice and food as a young adult. “I started to see that farming could be a tool for organizing,” he says. “I thought about all the ways I could help move people forward, particularly people of African descent – the folks I belong to.”
Chris is also an educator at Farm School NYC where he found a powerful teaching tool in the Training the Trainer model. His students’ life experience and their willingness to engage with the material are essential to moving the larger project forward, he finds. “The more I use this model, the more I appreciate the experience of teaching and being taught,” he says. Based in Philadelphia, Chris gets a different perspective on urban agriculture from teaching in New York, while his students learn from him about urban farming in Philly.
Education and keeping the food local are at the heart of both his farm and the community garden that he coordinates. Both are in Southwest Philly in a predominantly African American, Caribbean, and West African lower-income neighborhood. The farm is part of Bartram’s Garden, a public park and historic site named after a 17th century botanist. Chris keeps the farm’s harvest in the neighborhood with a CSA and by supplying local grocery stores and restaurants. He teaches canning and cooking classes and recently led a wild food and medicine walk. Chris’s sense of connection not only to the past but also the future is clear when he says, “Food sovereignty is more than a right – it’s an obligation to future generations.”
Neftali Duran, I-Collective
Neftali Duran is a cook, advocate, educator, and organizer, working towards an equitable food system and building a network of indigenous food leaders. He is a former Salzburg Global Fellow, and co-founder of the I- Collective, an indigenous collective that promotes a healthy food system that values people, traditional knowledge, and the planet over profit. His writing and culinary projects have been featured at the Smithsonian Native American museum, the Smithsonian museum of American history, The Native American Culinary Association, LongHouse Food Revival, Food52, and the Cooking Channel, and he has been a featured speaker on The Moth mainstage, Harvard, Smith College and more. Neftali’s work is grounded in the belief that access to food is a human right.
Neftali’s work is informed by his own experience as an indigenous and formerly undocumented migrant worker and 20 years of experience in the restaurant and food industry as chef, baker, and small business owner. He also educates community around indigenous culinary traditions, the effects of migration on people and food, and the environment. He is interested in documenting the culinary traditions of the different regions of Oaxaca, Mexico, reclaiming the roots and culture of the original peoples of the Americas, having conversations about the impact of colonialism in our communities in regards to traditional food-ways as well as engaging on conversations about the how climate change will impact frontline communities.
Lan Dinh, VietLead and Soil Generation
Lan Dinh comes from a family of Vietnamese refugees, farmers, and fisherfolk and learned how to grow from her mother in a cramped back porch of West Philly. She is the Farm and Food Sovereignty Director at VietLead where she manages the Resilient Roots Community Farm which builds intergenerational and multi-racial solidarity with high school youth and elders. She also guides the SumOurRoots project, a South/Southeast Asian collaboration between the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Bhutanese Organization of Philadelphia, and VietLead that is building a community farm at Furness High School. Lan also is apart of Soil Generation, a Black and Brown-led coalition of growers in Philadelphia fighting for increased land rights for communities amidst growing gentrification.