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2022 Black Farming Conference to focus on the power of storytelling through food

Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice
The Black Farming Conference is free and begins September 9 at Central State University with educational workshops over the weekend. WYSO is a sponsor for the event.

On September 9, the third annual Black Farming Conference will be hosted by Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice at Central State University. This will be the first time it will be held in-person. In past years, the conference has highlighted the impact of cooperative business models among Black growers, land access and the contributions of Black and underrepresented farmers in the industry.

This year's theme will be Roots, Food and Storytelling. One of the feature speakers is Michael Twitty, an African-American Jewish writer, culinary historian, and educator.

WYSO’s food reporter Alejandro Figueroa talks with one of the members of the planning committee for the conference, Ariella Brown, about the conference's significance and on recognizing Black farmers. WYSO is a sponsor for the event.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity):

Can you talk to me about how this conference came about and sort of the need for this type of conference here in Southwest Ohio?

This was really an idea that started or it came from Dr. Kevin McGruder, who is a history professor at Antioch College. And so he had this idea to say, you know, we should do a conference to really celebrate the contributions of Black Americans, especially who have been a part of the farming community in Southwest Ohio. And so there really is a rich history of Black farming in Southwest Ohio specifically, but also in the Midwest.

And so that's really the reason why we want to make sure that we honor a lot of the work that our Black and underrepresented farmers have really been a part of since our country's founding. And, you know, farming really is something that touches everyone because we all have to eat. And so supporting our black farming communities specifically because we're generally underrepresented or left out of the conversation.

And this year's theme is roots, food and storytelling. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means?

Yes. So history and just the importance of storytelling in the Black community is something that's really important. And so we wanted to really focus on being able to tell the story of Black Americans from the very beginning until today.

And again, storytelling really is at the epicenter of Black culture and being able to tell stories from our grandparents and our ancestors to our children and grandchildren. To make sure that we don't forget our history.

Why do you think having these types of conversations are important whether you’re a Black farmer or not?

Because, number one, it's important to know your history. Because if you don't, then. It's easy for others to use it against you. And I think for far too long, Black and underrepresented individuals have purposely been left out of the conversation.

And so it's important because there needs to be more equity within all of our systems. And people need to be held accountable for all of the wrongdoing that has kept Black and underrepresented individuals economically distressed for so long.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943