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From Charlottesville to the Upper Midwest – What’s on the Table?

“Ending oppression – the dynamic based on a belief that there are some who are entitled to have power and control over others – is vital to cultivating restorative communities of people and land.” 

We share this portion of our Ally Statement with you, dear readers, in light of the recent display of racism, hatred and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost loved ones and to all those injured, and our prayers go out to the whole nation as we look at our communities, systems, and organizations to ask “What can we do to dismantle white supremacy and build restorative communities?”

We created our Ally Statement in 2014 to serve as a public and living document that invites our community, inside and outside the organization, to hold us accountable to our mission, vision and guiding principles. It challenges us all to work for restorative communities and to dismantle systems of oppression that are still manifest in our communities today. These systems shape all of our lives, including the food and farm system, and how we collectively treat land and people.

Two decades ago, Angelic Organics Learning Center began with the belief that good food is a human right. The Learning Center was founded in part to be a good neighbor and ally with our brothers and sisters of color, and with people living on low-incomes. Recognizing that the growing movements of organic farming and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) were largely attracting middle and upper class European-Americans, our founding board of directors purposefully crossed racial and class lines – comprised of Latino, Black & White members living on a range of income levels. Our Ally Statement is a continuation of these founding directions towards healing the relationships between people, the land and each other. 

The potential to heal our communities through agriculture is often undermined by an industrial food system that is broken. We feel this brokenness in our sick bodies -- we see it in an ailing Earth -- we see it in a widening urban-rural disconnect -- and we see it in the inequities of income and access in the food and farm systems. The industrial food system, dedicated to cheap food, drives farmers to keep costs down, mostly by systematic exploitation of workers and the soil.  Isn’t this why immigrants pick more than 70 percent of the vegetables and fruit in the US? Or why more than 40 percent of dairy workers in Wisconsin are immigrants? And why this sector pays one of the lowest wages and has one of the highest rates of injury in our economy?  Or why the vast majority of farmers need to rely on off-farm income to keep their farms alive?

Alternatively, what would it look like if we abandoned cheap food and rewarded farmworkers with living wages for their hard and dedicated work to grow soils and improve our health?  What would it look like if all people had access to the best food from living soils and we took care of the farmers who grew it? 

At Angelic Organics Learning Center, we have a vision of regenerative agriculture that follows practical real-world models – community-supported -agriculture and Biodynamics – that form healing relationships between people and land. We assert that to earn the adjective ‘sustainable,’ food and farm systems must satisfy a quadruple bottom line that addresses Equity, as well as Ecology, Economy and Expression. 

Angelic Organics Learning Center is working for a local sustainable food & farm system where agriculture meets the quadruple bottom line of:

  • Equity when it protects the human rights of all people in the food chain - from farmworkers to food preparers – and creates access for all eaters, no matter what their racial or economic background
  • Economy when it produces nutrient-dense healthy and delicious food
  • Ecology when it heals the living Earth and grows soils as we produce food
  • Expression when farming and eating sustains a vibrant community and creative culture where human beings are fully and freely expressed.

For eaters, achieving the quadruple bottom line in our food and farm systems requires that we develop direct relationships with farmers and consider every purchase we make for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This is the ballot box for agriculture and we vote three times daily. As citizens, we must demand that our representatives in government hold leaders accountable to our nation’s constitution and values, and we must demand they develop agricultural policies and laws that respect farmers, farmworkers and land. And, as members of community-based organizations and institutions, we must demand that intolerance and exploitation be confronted and dismantled as a necessary step towards building restorative communities, whether in agriculture or any other sector.

We share our Ally Statement in full with you (click here) and hope it inspires you to consider your next step -- whether at home, in business or in society – to heal the land and people.  We invite you to join us.    

- Tom Spaulding
Executive Director & Co-founder
Angelic Organics Learning Center

- Mary Khoury 
Board President
Angelic Organics Learning Center