COLUMBUS, Ohio - A premiere gathering for sustainable farmers, backyard growers and local food enthusiasts in Ohio marks a key milestone this year by elevating the historic injustices in agriculture, and exploring ways to a more diverse path for the future.
Director of Farm School NYC Onika Abraham will be a keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's 40th annual conference. She contends the next generation of farmers should be more diverse - and notes that people of color have been alienated from farming, in part because of their ancestors' traumatic agricultural past.
"We can go about healing that by highlighting the ways that people of color have brought not just their bodies to this work, but their minds, their traditions, their scientific practices to this work," says Abraham. "And to celebrate that, and say that we're building upon the real contributions of everyone's ancestors in doing this work."
Abraham says organic practices are rooted in the past generations, from all walks of life from around the world. And she'll lead a workshop examining some of the personal stories of injustice and oppression faced in farming by people of color, immigrants, women and others.
"We'll look at how we weave that into what we know about some of the origins of sustainable agriculture, and how we can lift those two things up together to create really, really interesting, inclusive and inspiring ways of changing our food system for the better," says Abraham.
Abraham helps train people in urban agriculture with the hopes of inspiring self-reliant communities. She says she's excited to share her perspective as a farmer, educator and social-justice leader.
"Knowing how the food was grown, what was used on those crops, what kind of soil it was grown in; all of that is becoming more and more important," says Abraham. "Knowing the person that's actually growing your food can really help - and being the farmer who is growing your food is the greatest amount of transparency possible."
Homesteading, business management, soil health and dozens of other sustainable farming topics will also be covered at the conference, February 14 through 16 at the Dayton Convention Center. Online registration closes today. More information is online at oeffa.org.