Introduction to MOFGA's Equity and Justice Work

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 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:

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

More about MOFGA's equity platform

MOFGA's Equity Q&A Webinar

Examples of how this statement is manifesting in our day-to-day work

To offer broader understanding about how this statement is being implemented, here are some recent examples of how this statement and MOFGA’s ongoing commitment is manifesting in our day-to-day work:

  • We commit to land acknowledgements in our public events and have incorporated land acknowledgement language that all staff can use into our organization’s style guide.
  • Our staff participated in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge and facilitated a discussion for farmers participating in the challenge.
  • We are working on a three-year grant to offer training to agricultural services providers and organizations on diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • We offer free event registration for BIPOC and other marginalized community members to reduce barriers to MOFGA’s educational programming.
  • MOFGA hosts events and discussions led by BIPOC community members and centers the work being done by BIPOC-led businesses and organizations in those discussions.

 If you have any questions, want to provide feedback or would like to see a more detailed version of this statement including direct action steps related to the outlined goals, please email [email protected].

Organizations invested in this work

We are grateful for the ongoing and dedicated work of many other organizations and businesses and commit to using our platforms to raise up organizations led by those most impacted by systemic racism, colonization and other systems of oppression. Here are some other organizations and food and agriculture businesses that are working  in our region and invested in this work. We recommend those interested in learning and engaging more check out and support:

Would you like to be added to this list? Send a note to [email protected].

Frequently asked questions

Here are some questions we have been asked and our responses at this time. We want to learn and listen with you and welcome additional questions and feedback from our community. Send questions and comments to [email protected].

Why is MOFGA spending so much time and energy working on diversity, equity and inclusion when it is an agricultural organization? How is this related?

As an agricultural organization, MOFGA is working to create a food system that is just and equitable for all. As part of MOFGA’s vision for the future everybody has access to healthy, culturally appropriate food and that power is more evenly distributed within the food system. We understand the U.S. food system — both historically and present-day — to be rooted in extractive systems including enslavement, land theft, and chemical-based agriculture. Therefore conversations of equity and justice are intrinsically linked to our mission as an agricultural organization. Economically, environmentally and socially sustainable farms are a permanent fixture of the community, and in order to support sustainability we must learn from and work to address inequities in the food system.

I don’t see inequities in the food system. Can you prove this is an issue?

As a place to begin learning, we offer the following resources and examples of how the white dominant culture impacts marginalized communities. 

  1. Dismantling Racism in the Food System — An article from FoodFirst that offers an overview of racism in the food system.
  2. Milk With Dignity Campaign — This video from Migrant Justice describes the Milk With Dignity Campaign, which builds a movement of farmworkers and allies calling on dairy companies to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains by joining the worker-driven Milk with Dignity Program
  3. Leah Penniman’s keynote address at the 2020 Common Ground Country Fair — Leah Penniman discusses how some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices, from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, have roots in African wisdom – yet discrimination and violence against African-American and Black farmers have led to their decline from 14% of all growers in 1920 to less than 2% today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land.
  4. What Happened to all the Black Farmers? — This video from NBC Left Field explores Black land loss in the United States through the perspective of sugar cane farmer June Provost, Jr. and the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit that found discriminatory practices in the USDA. 
  5. Winona LaDuke’s keynote address at the 2020 Common Ground Country Fair — Learn about LaDuke’s current project, Anishinaabe Agriculture, which is working to relocalize a food economy, to restore traditional food varieties that can adapt in a time of climate change and to create a hemp economy. The project is building a regional Indigenous and local food system based on transitioning away from fossil fuel economics and back to a restorative economy and farming system. Anishinaabe Agriculture focuses on Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, potatoes, perennials, tobacco and hemp. Recognizing the instability of globalized food systems, the project is working to deepen its food work in the community and toward relocalizing a food economy.

How do I get involved?

This list of organizations led by BIPOC and other marginalized communities is a great resource for furthering your engagement. MOFGA also hosts events and facilitates discussions about anti-racism work and agriculture. Check out our events calendar for upcoming opportunities.

Scroll to Top
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter of happenings at MOFGA.