SATURDAY KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Natasha Bowens
Through photography and storytelling, Natasha Bowens, author of the book The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming, will introduce farmers and food activists of color revolutionizing the food system and preserving cultural foodways around the country. Their stories highlight important issues of food justice and food sovereignty such as land ownership, health, community building, and race and gender obstacles.
This presentation aims to amplify the role of communities of color in agriculture while challenging the status quo of agrarian identity and teaching us that the good food movement is about more than buying local and protecting our soil. It is about preserving culture and community, digging deep into the places we’ve overlooked and honoring those who have come before us. Blending storytelling, photography and oral history, Natasha’s keynote address will show how true food sovereignty means a place at the table for everyone.
SUNDAY: Story and Poetry Slam
Inspired by the revitalization of storytelling in Vermont and beyond, we’re opening our keynote stage on Sunday morning for a Story and Poetry Slam.
With a theme of Growing the Good Food Movement, our 8 story tellers will relate person narratives of their experience with food equity, race, class, farm worker rights, and food sovereignty.
Hosting the Story and Poetry Slam (and performing, as well) will be Laura Brown-Lavoie. Laura is a farmer, poet, performer, and youth mentor in Providence, RI, whose 2012 Winter Conference performance was one of our most popular.
Enrique "Kike" Balcazar has worked on Vermont dairy farms for over 3 years and both his mother and father also worked on VT farms. He has been a community leader in Migrant Justice's successful driver's license and bias-free policing campaigns. Additionally, Kike is trained as an "Agricultural Justice" farm inspector.
Jeffrey Ellis farms with his wife, Rebecca Beidler, on Peace of Earth Farm in Albany, VT, a small permaculture based, no-till, diversified farm. He is also a lyrical artist by the name of Mycelium and uses this skill to speak about food justice and caring for the Earth. He is also the creator of All Good Things, an open source performance project. He will be performing his poem entitled Cooperation.
Hope Johnson, aka the Garden Lady, maintains gardens for commercial customers in Chittenden County and works at Red Wagon Plant’s retail greenhouse. Hope is also a quilter and will tell a story entitled “Mind Your Own Beeswax” about how the creative work of a quilter in Vermont led to a partnership with a bee researcher in Arizona to help address food security in Ethiopia.
Tomas Rogel and Laura Cassetty are seniors at Montpelier High School. They have been active in raising chickens and working in the greenhouse at the school and will tell a story about the role of youth in Growing the Good Food Movement.
Ross Thurber is a certified organic dairy farmer and poet from Lilac Ridge Farm in Brattleboro. He and his family farm 600 acres, have a 50-cow dairy, 10-acre market garden, 2,000-tap sugaring operation, timber harvesting and Christmas tree sales.
Sophie Wood is a performance artist, freelance farmer, and lover of sequins. She creates outdoor performance events on farms as co-founder of The Royal Frog Ballet, teaches Shakespeare and clowning, and can rock pick a potato digger faster than anyone she has met yet. She will be performing her poem entitled “Wealth.”
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