True Regenerative Agriculture is Colourful and deeply just.

Regenerative Agriculture has a big Race and Equity issue, and it’s not going away anytime soon

Article in Will + Good by Laura Fisher. April 2022

The Urban Agriculture Consortium is quite new and quite small. Members are also mostly somewhere on a spectrum of white and middle class. As part of our journey, we are choosing to examine this and to work to diversify the consortium so that it becomes a vehicle for more marginalised voices to have agency in food system change.

Our partner in Middlesbrough, Catherine from Barefoot Kitchen told us very recently that there are conversations bubbling up there about how increasing numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are skilled farmers and land workers with no means, who need to feed themselves – they are looking at how their pilot Farmstart scheme (set up thanks to the UK Farmstart Network, UAC, Middlesbrough Environment City, Barefoot Kitchen and Necessity) can welcome, serve and learn from this growing community, so in need of landing, grounding, healing, connection and nourishment. There are many many dimensions to the land and food justice issue that we must face and embrace. Many questions to ask and explore. Much listening and learning to do.

There are a number of great sources of information that are helping the consortium to embark on this journey. Here are a few:

In this helpful and important article in Well + Good, we can see how, in America, ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ is a label already being exploited by Business as Usual companies who disregard the origins and justice dimensions of regenerative practices to perpetuate and greenwash their own businesses. Many of these kinds of companies will also operate in the UK.

The article focusses on a number of essential ways forward for the regenerative agriculture movement everywhere:

  • Acknowledge, honour and celebrate the origins of regenerative practices as coming from indigenous practices practiced worldwide for thousands of years – by people who understood that economy is nested within ecology, culture and community.
  • Ensure that Regenerative Agriculture is practiced in ways that actively undo the structural and historical exploitation that the current system is built on
  • Create clearer definitions of Regenerative Agriculture that ensure the global and local human and equity dimensions cannot be disregarded
  • Hold accountable those who exploit people and ecology within the agricultural systems, using legal, regulatory and tax systems
  • Talk explicitly about power and privilege in every area of our food system as we go about changing it.

Go further and deeper and check out these resources and opportunities within the UK:

LAND IN OUR NAMES (LION) is the go-to organisation in the UK for Reconnecting Black Communities with Land in Britain. It aims to disrupt oppressive land dynamics relating to BPOC (Black and People of Colour) communities in Britain. Check out Videos, Podcasts, the Rootz into Food Growing Report and other resources.

THE LANDWORKERS ALLIANCE is organising Growers Retreats for BPOC Growers and Landworkers in the countryside.

MY FAMILY GARDEN – MOTHIN ALI. A family homestead in Leeds, from where Mothin Ali shares with the world his family’s adventures in food growing that honours their Bangladeshi heritage. His aim is to keep alive the culture and traditional growing techniques that have been passed down to him and to inspire and teach others how to do the same.

These organisations can help us to take the journey into justice and inclusion in relation to land and food:

The beautiful banner image is from Land in Our Names website (I couldn’t find the name of the artist. Let me know and I’ll add it!)

Thanks to Dee Woods (Landworkers Alliance) and Kate Swade (Shared Assets / Digital Commons) for their support, insight and experience.

We have applied to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for funding to enable this work. Watch this space.