DECLARATION OF THE MID ATLANTIC AGROECOLOGY ENCOUNTER
PRESTON, MD – June 29th – 31st, 2016
We are 80 people, from 37 organizations, 9 States and the District of Columbia. These include DC, MD, VA, NJ, FL, MS, MA, PA, TX. Together, we stand as Black, Latinx, & Southeast Asian agrarian communities including immigrants and refugees from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil, Cambodia, and Vietnam. We are gathered as Black and Brown peoples from both rural and urban areas of the United States in solidarity with the Indigenous, Black, and Brown peoples struggle around the World. We are farmworkers, coop farmers, family farmers, activists, artists, gardeners, children, youth and elders as well as, allies, students, interpreters, and other supporters.
We gathered at Black Dirt Farm in Preston, MD from the 29th to the 31st of July 2016 to undertake the 1st Mid-Atlantic Regional Agroecology Encounter ( or Meeting), 2nd in a process of Regional Encounters that began in Florida and was preceded by the “Afroecology” gathering of 2015 in Maryland. This Encounter, jointly organized by member organizations of the Black Dirt Farm Collective, CATA, Ecohermanas, Soil Generation, Soilful City, and VietLead has made possible an exchange of collaborative learning that included sharing the traditional wisdom of agri-Culture, re-engagement in practices that respect Mother Earth, and the restoration and rebuilding of our food cultures. Collectively we value our elder wisdom as well as, the vital contributions of gender non-conforming people, and youth in our movement.
This encounter has strengthened our belief in, and our commitment to agroecology as a community and self transformative process for building food sovereignty, for regenerating Mother Earth, for land-based self determination, and for liberating Black and Brown peoples of the persecution and violence that they face in the United States. It has also strengthened our confidence in popular education and community work as the foundation of the struggle for social, economic, and ecological transformation. When working with these concepts and principles, we create changes through which the earth and people are again connected in a cohesive ecosystem that includes a direct link between seeds, roots, water, people, the cosmos, and the land.
Threats and Challenges to People’s Agroecology and Food Sovereignty
We have had enough of HIStory and are reclaiming OUR story in which people and Mother Earth live, love and sustain each other. We uphold our ancestors, and now know our shared struggle in the United States in which White Supremacy, Hetero-Patriarchy, and Capitalism directly come from the plantation model of agriculture that built this society. As well as an ideology of scarcity that leads toward extractive and destructive practices of our land and resources. As then as it is now, these models negatively affects our food system and climate. The industrial model of agricultural – agribusiness, have kept our most vibrant community members in toxic, undervalued environments, and working in slave-like conditions. Ya basta! (“Enough is enough!”) We deserve a Just Transition and we see agroecology as a means to this transition. These systems have been used to keep us hungry, and divided, hindering the progress of Black and Brown people, and the healing of Mother Earth. We unite together to transform or end these oppressive systems.
Our people face challenges and threats that, undermine food sovereignty and the direct welfare of our families and communities, violate our rights as dignified peoples, as workers, and cause serious damage to the land, the soil, water, and all of Mother Earth. Collectively we understand our right to reclaim land, keep seeds, and practices of our ancestors.We understand our right to healthy, culturally viable and energetic foods that nourishes us, free from GMOs, chemical pesticides, fertilizers and the detrimental business practices that come at the expense of the farmworker or food chain worker’s health. We have a right to reclaim the foods of our culture and we will not be replaced or erased. We have a right to break the rules of the system, which limit and persecute us. We understand these to not only be our rights but our duty to uphold.
Faced with these serious barriers to a People’s Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and collective liberation we at the Black Dirt Farm Collective, along with our allies present at the Mid-Atlantic Agroecology Encounter, affirm the following positions:
We are planting and sowing:
- Equitable Food Systems that nourish Mother Earth
- Diverse communities that respect Indigenous and ancestral wisdom
- An age where everybody and all our ecosystems are healthy
- Where plants are appreciated for their medicine and their nourishment to life
- Together we make a commitment to develop reproducible structures, methodologies and pedagogies with one basic goal – liberation.
We can only do this if we take control of our socio-political and economic power rooted in our communities and in the land. We will live wholly in our power and empower people by:
- Reclaiming stewardship and ownership of land.
- Enlightening people on different systems of oppression that Black, Brown, and Indigenous people face every day and sharing land based solutions for self determination.
- Educating the Mid-Atlantic region and our allies in institutions we control.
- Provide collective capacity on how to grow and prepare food through agroecology
- Enabling networks that connect Black and Brown Farmers with people
- Continue to create environments that acknowledge our authentic selves and provide space for self transformation and healing in community.
Together it is our commitment to broadcast a message of solidarity, love, power, fun, sovereignty, peace, wisdom, action, healing, re-creation, self-discovery, self-transformation, reconnection and empowerment with Mother Earth. In the names of our movement ancestors, including Charity Hicks, Cynthia Hayes, Gladys McMichaels and so many more, we pledge to continue building Agroecology and Food Sovereignty for you, for me and for us in the Mid-Atlantic Region and beyond!
Viva Viva Agroecologia!
Agroecology, For the People, For Life, Forever!