Agro Activist video blog episode #1 Rain Barrel

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2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference (Pictures)

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2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference 2010

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Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Food and Farms Partnership sponsored my trip to New York City for the 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference. It was held at brooklyn college which is a small school located in the heart of the brooklyn borough. The conference had a lot of energy invested into it and was very well attended by roughly 500 people from all over the nation. There were people from all over Oakland, Detroit, Maryland, NC, BAltimore, Dominican Republic and many others.

The conference was held the day of the Pigford II passage trough congress, which is a class action law suit filled against the National Department of Agriculture claiming long standing discrimination against African American farmers, it was some of the biggest news from the weekend. Some of the lead organizers and campaigners for this case were in attendance and gave a keynote address. This lawsuit has created political waves nationally because of its shear size and scale of impact. It is very rare that victories like this one happen within the Black community not to mention that Native American landowners won a large class action lawsuit settlement also in recent days.

I also spent time touring around the different boroughs of New York to see the various Urban Garden designs that had been established for community residents. We heard stories about how people had to fight for their space and establish youth opportunities. The conference promoted building stronger networks, scaling up business opportunities, and promotion of urban gardening and rural farming. The experience was very educational and I was able to bring back a lot of information that will help me in my work here in Oregon.


Demographic comparisons of Black Farmers Nationwide

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The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that 2.20 million farms operated in the US. Of this total, 32,938 or approximately 1.5% of all farms, were operated by African-Americans.

Over 74% (24,446) of African-American Farms in the US. reside in Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana.

Average Annual Market value for farms operated by African-American farmers in 2007 was $30,829. The national average for white US farmers was $140,521.

Overall, he number of farms operated in the US increased by 3.2% between 2002 and 2007. Farms operated by African Americans increased from 29,090 to 32,938 an 11% increase of the five year period.

In 2007, 348 (757 in 2002) African-American farmers received Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans amounting to a total of $9.9 million. This averaged $28,408 per participating African-American farmer, about 32% of the national Average ($87,917). Average CCC loan value to white farmers was $88,370.

Other federal farm payments to African-American operated farms averaged $4,260. Half the national average government farm payment of $9,518. About 31% of all African American farmers received some government payment compared to 50% of white farmers.

Source: 2007 Census of Agriculture, NASS

Food Cooperatives in Portland, Oregon

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My wife and I are thinking about joining a food cooperative. I am doing the research to find out which one would be best for us.

A list of all of the Food Cooperatives in Portland, Oregon.

Alberta Co-op Grocery - 1500 Northeast Alberta Street Portland, OR 97211 (503) 287-4333 - http://www.albertagrocery.coop/
How Much: 15 twice a year for 6 year or full $180 share
What you get:
# You are a co-owner of the store and receive a vote in major Co-op decisions
# Discounts at our Sister Organizations
# 2% discounts on all your purchases at the register
# 10% discounts on case orders and special orders
# Extra Discounts during special Owner Appreciation Events
# Participate as a working owner or serve on the board

People's food Co-op - 3029 Southeast 21st Avenue, Portland, OR (503)232-9051 http://www.peoples.coop/
How Much: $30 per year $180 full share owner lifetime
What do you get:
#Patronage Refund
#True Democracy
#Opportunity to Participate
#Free Yoga and Community Room Classes
#Special Discounts
#Excellent Product Selection Guidelines

Food Front Cooperative Grocery - 2375 Northwest Thurman Street Portland, OR 97210 (503)222-5658 - http://www.foodfront.coop/
How Much: $5 per month or $150 share
What you Get:
#5-10% discount during Owner Appreciation Festivals, four times a year
#Monthly Owner Specials
#Patronage dividends when the store is profitable-the more you shop, the more you get back
#10% discount on special order cases
#Front Lines newsletter
#Check cashing privileges


Profile in Courage: Karen Washington

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I had the great pleasure to meet Karen Washington recently in the Bronx borough of New York City. She is a powerful activist working hard for environmental and economic justice for more then 20 years. She was also one of the lead organizers and emcee for the unprecedented conference at Brooklyn College, Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference 2010. She has been instrumental in bring the food movement to people of color and poor people throughout New York City. I was able to meet her at the community garden La Finca Del Sur, and also participated in a tour of the garden she helps manage called the Garden of Happiness. She is also involved with the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition and board member of Just Food both located in New York City. Karen Washington do your thing and thanks for the work you do.

New Film - Soul Food Junkies

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I saw an exclusive showing of preview of the latest movie Soul Food Junkies from Bryon Hurt the maker of classic Movie documentary Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Bryon Hurt is now focusing his efforts on bad eating habits within the black community. The movie preview that I saw was intriguing that played like a PSA for the black community think about what you eat or your health will suffer. This movie is important because it is sensitive to the cultural values of the black community mainly food and family which are both sacred. An added component Hurt adds into the mix is health which is often not equated to the day to day food habits. Food is however one of the most important things to consider for long term health. In the movie preview we saw a vegan mother feeding her child sea weed avocado rolls and the little girl was loving it. The preview also had a cameo from the famous comedian Dick Gregory who said "we were vegetarians 5 days a week and meat was a treat on the weekends". I am very excited to see the results of this movie and am a big fan of Bryon Hurt and all his good work. Thanks also to Malcolm X Grassroots movement for playing this preview and for their take back the land movement presented at the 2010 Black Farmers and Urban Gardener Conference in NYC.

Groundworks Portland and Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust

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Wonderful article about the work of two organizations making things happen on the accessible food front Groundworks Portland and Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust. Check it out in the latest addition of the Portland Mercury http://bit.ly/hfkeso. These are two organizations that are working hard to make unused land into space for neighbors and community members to grow gardens and beautify or detoxify land. I hope one day I can work with or along side these organizations. One because this is an effort I support 100%. Not only is it a good example of how people are thinking creatively about how to grow in the city but it is teaching children how to be responsible land tenets. Keep up the good work.