Albany, Georgia / by Rudy Espinoza

Faces from my trip to Albany, Georgia last week.

I joined a cohort a practitioners who are building a field of practice around “equitable food oriented development.” Each person was leading important initiatives to develop food hubs, employee owned grocery stores, community owned farms and more. (I was there to share our street vendor-inspired micro-loan fund and other projects). We all saw food as a portal to address other issues in our community, joblessness, access to capital, and disconnection from the land.

Our disconnection from the land (or its theft from communities of color) was further magnified because our meetings were hosted at place now called Resora, once the largest slave owning plantation in Georgia. It was now owned by New Communities, a Black led nonprofit that provided land and resources to low-income Black farmers. Ms. Sherrod, the founder of the organization, shared her stories of discrimination and racism in the South and the numerous Black farmers who’s land was stolen through schemes and violence (including by the USDA...see the Pigford v. Glickman case). Her personal journey began when her Father was killed by a white farmer and was never prosecuted. She shared that her life has been about fighting back, but also creating. For her and the farmers she worked with, access and ownership of land was integral to self determination.

Today is Earth day. A reminder that we need to take care of our planet, more so now because it is dying. I’m also thinking about how we can better honor the folks who are trying to be stewards of the land but are up against tremendous challenges to even stay on their land or in their neighborhoods. They already have answers to how to best care for Earth, so it can care for us.