Economic Development

Here’s a developing list of resources related to creating virtual farm tours and other farm events.

Virtual Farm & Food Experiences webinar. Univ of Vermont and International Workshop on AgriTourism. Visit the latter for more webinars. Sponsored by Yonder, a new agritourism and farm stay platform. Also see the resources from the webinar: Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont, USA and Caroline Millar, Balkello Farm and Go Rural, Dundee, Scotland.

Pony Power Therapies in New Jersey. Webinar recording of farm tour.

This is our list of our bests for 2020.. we begin this blog post on Dec 7 and will add to it as we approach year end..

Best Report: The Food system: Concentration & Its Impacts by a respected group of authors including our own Douglas Constance from Sam Houston State University. Report presentation video.

Best Books we read: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Gratitude to the National Good Food Leadership Network book club for including this book. Grain by Grain, another winner by Elizabeth Carlisle with Bob Quinn takes the reader through the long process to establish sound, durable businesses based on values of nutrition and retention of footways that are good for people and planet.

Best Virtual Conference: Mission Capital Data Institute Conference. The combination of pre-recorded 15m sessions coupled with 45m live sessions was a lively experience. This is one of the few conferences where I went back and viewed recordings of sessions I’d missed. The main benefit was the relevant topics including How to Make An Infographic and How to Use Pivot Tables in Excel. The agenda was laid out clearly and it was pretty easy find sessions. I found myself rushing a bit from session to session – not that different from in person life. -SB

Best New Way to Think About Food System VisionFood System Vision Prize Themes from OpenIDEO When we look at our work from different perspectives, we see more open doors to creating the new food system we want. (1) Traditional Wisdom & Practices (2) Community-informed Policy (3) Hyper-localization (4) Human-first Technology.

Best Indicators of a Shift in Academic Thinking About Food Systems – National Academy of Sciences workshop “Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Building a More Sustainable, Resilient, Equitable, and Nourishing Food System – A Workshop“, July 2020. The introduction by Dr. Patrick Stover, Dean Texas A&M AgriLife describes changed expectations of our food systems shifting to a more systemic analysis focused on long term health and environmental impact. Dr. Stover draws on the 2015 report, “A Framework For Assessing Impacts of the Food System” as the basis for this shift in expectations. Dr. Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists walks through one example (among many) of COVID-19 among meat packing plant workers to demonstrate that scientists cannot legitimately address food as system without considering work welfare. Watch the videos here. Stover Salvador

Best New Government Resource – The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Transportation and Marketing Program webinars and resource listings during COVID-19 have been excellent resources, highlighting outstanding COVID responses for us all to leverage across the nation. The website design highlights sharing of the multitude of local food resources offered and gathered by this critical front line agency.

Local Food As Economic DevelopmentWorking Landscapes video. Food processing for schools and rural communities in Warren County, North Carolina. Worth a watch for economic development professionals! they used in depth participatory process called “Community Voice“.

These resources were kindly provided by the SNAP education staff at the Texas Department of Health & Human Services. We are grateful for their work.

  1. All farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers must be SNAP certified through USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)  before they can accept SNAP at their markets and/or to apply for the SNAP EBT equipment grant.  If a market needs to apply for certification, please have them apply with FNS online at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/SNAP-application-educational-notice.pdf or by calling 1-877-823-4369 and requesting a paper application. Once FNS receives a correct and completed application, it can take up to a week for FNS to process the application. FNS will contact the market directly once approved. After approval is received, the market can submit the SNAP EBT Equipment Request Form.
  2. There is an opportunity receive free wireless EBT equipment through September 30, 2021 or as funds are available. Funds are currently still available. See attached flyer for grant information. Applicants must be certified by the FNS to accept SNAP and submit a completed Equipment Request Form.  This form contains an “intent” statement so by signing the form, the market is agreeing to the program requirements; no other letter of intent is needed. If you have any questions about this grant, email EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us.

Here’s the flyer!

SNAP equipment grant flyer for Texas farms & farmers markets.
For more information, email  EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us

by Holly Park

This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas.

Racism. I wrote it. You read it. It is a nasty reality that we live with but to fix it we can’t be afraid to talk about it. So say it again. Racism.

The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Anti-Racism training sponsored by the Texas Center for Local Food was an invaluable opportunity to start tough conversations, and learn how to continue them productively. Our trainers at the NCCJ sessions guided us towards truths I have a hard time seeing as a white person benefiting from the systemically racist culture and systems that currently rule America. Equally as important, this training also gave us the toolkit we need to further explore our own privilege (white and POC) and to productively combat the pervasive and thriving white supremacy in the world.

At the very beginning of the training, the leaders clearly defined rules to ensure everyone felt comfortable and understood how to be respectful of each other. In a safe place, for everyone from every background, we discussed what racism is and what it means. We covered some of the historical roots of racism, what exactly systemic racism looks like, the real world impact of racist policies, and some lived experiences of racism. We separated into a POC identifying group and a white identifying group to discuss any feelings and thoughts we had but weren’t comfortable sharing with the larger group. We also discussed why it was important to separate and give that space to everyone. Even though we are in this together and racism affects everyone, it does not affect us equally or in the same ways. Most importantly there were no stupid questions, no shaming, and no judgement. Best of all we were given resources to continue education ourselves and advocating for equitability. 

My most treasured takeaways from the training are things I wish I could share with everyone on the planet. They are concepts that seem so simple, but when patiently explained to me, mean so much.

  • Impact and intent are two (sometimes very) different things
    • What you say and what you mean are not always the same thing, even if you don’t know it. In the context of someone else’s life the words you choose will hit someone else in a way you may not intend, but is still very real. For example, you may think telling someone you are “colorblind” will signal to them you do not feel racist. However, you are signaling you would rather not think about race or racism. And while that may be easy for you, it is not a choice for many. “Colorblindness” erases the history of inequitable race relations as well as people’s current lived experience. So while you may intend to be “colorblind” as a way to not be racist, the real impact is you are perpetuating racist attitudes and propping up systemic racism by ignoring the problem or glossing over it. Just remember, not meaning to hurt someone doesn’t make the pain go away. 
  • What you don’t know can hurt you and the people around you
    • Continuing with the example of “colorblindness”, you may not know that it is a dog whistle for racism. But saying it, even if you want to use it in a different way, is still racist. You may not know better, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt someone. Another example is a company policy about acceptable hair styles. Policies about “professional hair” can discriminate against anyone with non-white hair. If an African-American woman wants to work in an office, she may not feel comfortable, or worse may not be hired, if she has Afro-textured hair and chooses to wear it naturally or in braids. While you may think a policy is about good hygiene and a neat appearance, not recognizing how ethno-centric and exclusive the policy is doesn’t change the damage it does.
  • It’s not anyone else’s job to educate you
    • You may still not understand why “colorblindness” or specific dress codes are racist and hurtful. Google it. It is not the job of any POC you may know or meet, not anyone’s job, to ensure you understand. Racism is a stressful and emotional topic. It can literally be life or death for some people. There are lots of public resources like websites, podcasts, books, articles, and more where people have chosen to speak up about systemic racism, personal lived experiences, and everything in between. As a human being it is on you to walk your own journey of compassion, empathy, and understanding. I encourage you to educate yourself for your piece of mind, for your own personal growth, for the people around you, and for the people you don’t know that are being hurt and killed by racism every single day. 

We were asked towards the end of the training to imagine what the world would be like if there was no more racism. What the exercise highlighted is that not only is that world beautiful, it doesn’t have to be fictional. How do we stop racism? We talk about it.

This post is a living list of resources. Please use the comments below to add your resources and we’ll add them into the permanent post as we go.

Reading list from GoodReads

Training from the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ).

Community-Engaged Research Course is a class offered in 2019 as a pilot by Huston-Tillotson University to advance equity and data activism in central Texas. This topic is related to data collection and evaluation.

While not a direct resource, this meeting guide will help support meetings where all feel welcome, heard and valued. (Scroll down past their calendar). This guide is courtesy of Iowa State University via the Farm-Based Education Network.

The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic, June 2014

Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food Systems, from the Duke World Food Policy Center, Sept, 2020. Excellent overview of white supremacy in food systems and clear direction for food policy organizations to follow – Now. — Sent by Errol Schweizer.


by Jules Assata

This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas.

How long has it taken me to write my blog piece? Longer than I intended, that’s for sure. While I can name plenty of good reasons it took so long, the underlying truth is that I’ve struggled to articulate my experience… or even grasp my take-away from the intensive anti-racism training.

I’ve attended anti-racism training before, several times, including an in-person, weeklong intensive from NCCJ back in the mid-90’s. I’ve explored my racism and white privilege ad nauseum and am stunned each time another example comes to my attention because, as I am (sometimes reluctantly) aware, I will never be finished excavating the layers and nuances of the racism and privilege I have lived my entire life being served by.

So what did I get out of this particular training? Well…. this time I really ‘got’ the notion of white supremacy… as something other than those awful, skinhead, neo nazi, violent haters. What was different this time? Was the phrase newly inserted into NCCJ’s training, or worked into the experience more effectively, or was I just ready to hear it, to open the door to more awareness? Because I absolutely do NOT want to see myself in the context of that phrase and the images of people and beliefs that appall me. And yet ever since that training, especially one activity, one question, I have been seeing white supremacy everywhere.

We were once again sent into paired conversation in our breakout Zoom rooms, this time with the question “What would it look like to live in a world without white supremacy?” I was increasingly excited as I considered the endless possibilities of a world almost unimaginably different from the absence of white supremacy. If people of color~ particularly dark-skinned people and the descendents of slaves~ were not systematically subjugated to the control and benefit of light-skinned people~ particularly those of european descent or close enough to pass as the owning caste… if all those oppressed people had access to the same resources and opportunities as the oppressing caste… Wow! Everything we know in life could be different~ our homes and communities and work places, and types of work and play, our art and music and languages and ways to express ourselves and connect, our teaching and learning, our health and wellness, our environment and connection to it… it just started flowing and was beautiful. When I tried to articulate my wonder to my partner, I realized I sounded like a fantasy novel, so far removed from ‘reality’ these possibilities were. And the door opened wide and I began to see.

White supremacy is the water we live in like fish in a tank. As a white person, I am so perfectly bred to the fishbowl~ and do very well living in it~ that I literally could not imagine another setting… until I was asked to. Grateful am I for an active imagination and some broadening experiences in other places, among other people and cultures both from within and beyond my country’s borders… and I love and read fantasy novels… otherwise I think my responses to the question would have fallen along the lines of “it would fair” or “there would be equality”. 

White supremacy shapes every aspect of our lives… all of our lives… all of the time, in every setting… and in ways that are so much a part of everyday life they may be invisible, even to the majority who do not benefit from the way life has been set up. As a female, lesbian, non-Christian there are ways I most definitely do not benefit and must work to pass well enough to be relatively safe and secure, even if always a bit insecure and at risk. Dark-skinned? No way to pass, therefore safety and security is never  fully achieved, no matter how much money or education or type of job or place to live. Not in this fish bowl. So that is a lousy, unjust, crappy outcome from white supremacy. 

Crappy also is the way our communities are built and organized, the way our education is organized and the poor outcomes for the vast majority, the treatment of as many ‘others’ as the controlling caste (primarily wealthy, white, Christian, straight males) can contrive, the state of our planet~ our Mother Earth~ and yes, our food system. How much better might it be without white supremacy? No one can say for sure, but it couldn’t be worse. I would love to be alive to see what will happen when we evolve beyond.

by Adam Orman

This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas. This post is by Adam Orman, General Manager and Owner of L’Oca d’Oro restaurant in Austin, Texas and founding member of Good Work Austin.

I have been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years.  I have advocated for restaurants to support their local economies, reduce waste, increase food access to communities in need.  My restaurant does not pay $2.13/hr and shares a mandatory service charge with all of our employees to create greater equity inside our walls.  In the last four years, we became members of a national restaurant labor organization that advocates for higher wages and educates about the racist history of tipping, the racist patterns of tipping and the connection between the tipped minimum wage and sexual harassment.  We are at the far progressive end of our industry but it is only now that anti-racist training is something that independent owners are talking about seriously.  Those who are less progressive are only now talking about overcoming implicit bias without treading in the swamp of wage inequity and theft, sexual harassment and the exlpoitation of undocumented workers.

I needed this training and our industry desperately needs this training and for more in our industry to be able to speak this language.  I learned better definitions for things as simple as race, prejudice and discrimination and more nuanced, complete definitions of white supremacy and white privilege.  I left better equipped to have sensitive conversations with our staff about why we’re going to pursue a different more inclusive model.  We have a toolkit from One Fair Wage to help us implement more equitable systems, have sought out combo virtual/in person trainings for our staff and Good Work Austin now that I see their value and have begun negotiations with OFW to hold online trainings for an Austin restaurant cohort of restaurant owners in the beginning of 2021. 

I am grateful for being pushed to greater action and hopeful that GWA and L’Oca d’Oro can effectively proselytize, change the way Austin’s restaurant’s go about their business and serve as examples of businesses that must do more for our communities instead of only being concerned about how much we can extract from them.  Thank you for this invaluable opportunity.