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Cultivating Justice

Cultivating Justice

Project Mission 

Cultivating Justice is a multigenerational project with leadership representing young people, elders, and those in between. The mission of Cultivating Justice is to nurture Connecticut’s next generation of farmers of color. We are teaching, organizing, and developing leadership among Black, Indigenous, and Latine People of Color (BILPOC) through farming, business development, and civic engagement.

 

Background – Cultivating Justice Project 

In Connecticut  more than 98% of registered farmers are white. The U.S. Department of Agriculture allows only registered farmers and growers to contribute to the Agricultural Census, which is taken every five years and directly shapes the food and farm bill in Congress. This means the people most vulnerable to food insecurity in Connecticut are not included in the decisions that shape the bill. These are many of the same communities impacted by racial and economic segregation, mass criminalization, and mass incarceration.

 Cultivating Justice emerged through a unique partnership among BILPOC-led farms, agribusinesses, and nonprofit community organizations. Cultivating Justice centers community-identified needs around food security, land access, environmental justice, civic engagement, power building, and pathways toward agriculture for people underrepresented in Connecticut’s farming community.

Through partnership with Chicks Ahoy Farm LLC, we support the launch of crop growing, husbandry, and craft-related agribusinesses owned by people who have historically faced systemic discrimination

Cultivating Justice’s core partners provide the programming, fiscal support, and necessary infrastructure. But the heart of the project is the project’s leadership team and representatives of youth, merchants, landowners, community members, and other stakeholders from across Connecticut and in particular in the greater Middletown area. Together we hold a monthly meeting to discuss project business and programming.

 

Project Areas

Our project areas are designed to help facilitate comprehensive community, business, and city partnerships to increase the number of BILPOC farmers; put land, including wetlands, into sustainable agriculture use by local people; and foster greater civic engagement among project members. Each project area is led by a Cultivating Justice anchor – either a business or a community group. Project areas include the following:

Miller/Bridge Community Farm
We have partnered with residents of the Miller/Bridge area in Middletown to create a community farm that would primarily support the food needs of the neighborhood, as well as serve as agribusiness development space. The Miller/Bridge Street area has never had sufficient investment; and as a result of overdevelopment is almost entirely cut off from the rest of the community, from food sources, and from accessible resources. The city-owned space we are leasing on Miller Street is home to beehives and raised beds – and will soon host a chicken coop and more! We host monthly community meetings for residents, to organize power and grow together. Lead Partners: Dee’s Crafty Bees LLC and Chicks Ahoy Farm, Inc.

Eggucation

Our EggUcation learning series covers topics like chicken-keeping, how to become a farmer in Connecticut, and more! EggUcation makes basic education available at no cost to people in our network looking for a deeper learning dive or who are thinking about beginning their own farming projects or businesses. Our most recent chicken-keeping series introduced families to every aspect of the practice and provided them with the coops, chickens, and materials to get started. We are planning fishing and camping trips, visits to neighboring farms, a beekeeping and pollination series, and more! All of our EggUcation series programs are youth-focused and encourage the development and deepening of a relationship with nature. Lead Partners: Chicks Ahoy Farm, Inc. and Wesleyan University

 

Civic Engagement + Community Organizing

For generations, BILPOC communities in Connecticut have faced systemic racism – they’ve been targeted, criminalized, and marginalized. This is why racial disparities are so deeply entrenched in our state today – it’s why less than 2% of registered farmers in Connecticut are BILPOC, despite the long farming histories in many BILPOC communities. It’s why our criminal legal system is marked from top to bottom by persistent racial disparities. And it’s a leading reason that racial and economic segregation in Connecticut is among the worst in the nation. Fortunately, we can work together for a more equitable, healthy, and just future. Through Cultivating Justice, participants can receive training in civic engagement and community organizing. We are talking with folks about how power works in their communities and working with them to organize for change. They learn how to shape and participate in the decisions that impact their lives and their communities. Lead Partner: Wesleyan University Jewett Center for Community Partnerships


CONTACT

For more information about Cultivating Justice, please contact program  manager Diana Martinez at diana AT katalcenter.org or find us on Instagram @culitvatingjusticect