Introduction to MOFGA's Equity and Justice Work
In 2019 the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) undertook a comprehensive 10-year impact planning process for the organization, which laid the foundation for our work from 2020-2030. As part of this process we thought deeply about our goal to create a food system that is healthy and fair for all of us through our education, training and advocacy efforts. It became clear to the staff during this time that we cannot create the food system that we would like without furthering our own education and work on diversity, equity and inclusion. Staff-wide learning and listening has taken place and helped to inform the content of this statement. As a staff we participated in trainings from the following organizations and programs:
21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
This work is ongoing and evolving. We will continue to incorporate what we learn into our programs and welcome feedback.
A statement from the staff of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is committed to creating a food system that is just and equitable for all. The following equity statement is a work in progress that we commit to revisit on a quarterly basis, knowing that the work of building a just and equitable food system is ongoing and that we are constantly learning how to better center and support marginalized voices.
The truths we hold:
- Modern agriculture is built on unceded traditional Indigenous lands through human exploitation and co-opted knowledge.
- As a white-led organization, we must be explicit and transparent about how we are working towards our commitments to social justice.
- We believe in economic, environmental and social justice for all people involved in Maine’s food system, including those most impacted by historic and present-day systemic oppression including white supremacy, colonization and extractive capitalism.
- We must listen, learn and support the resilient and strong communities that we believe the organic movement must represent.
We believe the following commitments will bring us closer to centering equity and justice in our work:
- We commit to listening and repairing the past and current harms of MOFGA’s work.
- We commit to engaging in land justice work on occupied Wabanaki Confederacy land.
- We commit to centering marginalized voices — including Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC); lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+); low-income; veteran; and female voices — when designing and implementing programs.
- We commit to long-term learning about and engagement in justice work at all levels of our organization, including our board of directors, staff, volunteers and membership, and the broader community of eaters and growers in Maine.
In 2022 MOFGA continued to deepen our relationship with our equity commitments, growing as a staff and implementing action steps. This work was supported by equity consultant, Nico Chin of Up with Community. Some of our work, as well as direct examples of some actions we have taken, are included below:
- Expanded event and program accessibility to address barriers to entry
- Integrated alt text in social media, newsletter and website
- Used sliding scale pricing at many educational events to help with access and offered many workshops free to BIPOC participants
- Reinvisioned farmer grant processes, including simplifying applications and publicly sharing rubrics and interview questions
- Changed the MOFGA membership structure to offer membership levels at $5
- Continued to build community relationships
- Continued to build trusting relationships with BIPOC-run agricultural organizations and partners throughout the state and region when collaborating on projects
- Created a new policy around Gifts of Land that centers rematriation and/or financial support of local tribes, Indigenous communities, and other organizations engaged in restorative land justice
- Shared the grounds with Indigenous community members for culturally important harvests
- Provided direct support to those who have been marginalized in our agricultural system
- Administered wellness funds that prioritized BIPOC farm workers
- Co-coordinated winter clothing drive for migrant wreath workers
- Grew our public policy advocacy work
- In Maine’s Legislature, MOFGA advocated for tribal sovereignty and access to clean drinking water in solidarity with Wabanaki community
- Advocated to advance environmental justice & equity in state actions
- Shared our platform
- Lifted up the voices and stories of indigenous and Black Mainers through MOFGA in-person, print, and social media platforms
- Built relationships with new workshop instructors
- Normalized sharing pronouns at events as well as on name tags
- Created a cultural appropriation guideline for the Common Ground Country Fair