What Diversity Looks Like

S-mall P-lot IN-clusive: the fact of including all types of people, and treating them all fairly and equally

It’s hard to believe we’re almost through the first quarter of the twenty first century. For farming, it’s been a creative time, full of aspirations and activism. Food, and the way it is produced, has been the catalyst for inventive activity by entrepreneurs, environmentalists, technologists, artisans and advocates. “Changing the world” became their rallying cry. For some, Wally Satzewich became the unintentional figurehead for their various movements – urban farming, backyard farming, yardsharing, food not lawns, pedal-powered farming, hyperlocal.

But the real impact Wally saw for what he was pioneering in his little corner of the world went beyond all of that. As he said in SPIN-Farming Basics, “We’re trying to open up farming to a lot of different people that might not have seen it as possible for them.” By removing the barriers to entry – land and money – he hoped to make farming more inclusive.

It’s starting to happen. In just the past few years here’s a brief list of those who have stepped up to follow his lead.

> Jamiah Hargins, Crop Swap LA, Los Angeles CA
> April Pandora, Eden Urban Gardens, Cincinnati OH
> Ricky Whitfield, Thank God Urban Farm, Petersburg VA
> Terra Dumas, Common Roots, Buffalo NY
> Zak Gregoire, Phoenix Valley Farm, Mason NH
> Danielle Ralston, Tiny Tinks Farm, Rosemount MN
> Christa Barfield, Farmer Jawn, Philadelphia PA
> Steve Nunez, Mind Your Garden, Fort Worth TX
> Blair and Blanca Schaffer, Schaffer Farm, Clarendon TX
> April Vomfell, Flathead Farmworks, Kalispell, MT
> Beverly Grant, Seeds of Power Unity Farm, Denver CO
> Crystal and Carlos Leon, The Radish Hotel, Sparks NV
> Dimity May, Reid Tiny Farm, Canberra NSW
> Matthew Carey, Ava’s Matoes, Newark NJ
> Micaiah Hall, Free Haven Farm, Lawn Side NJ
> Aminah Haghighi, Raining Gold Family Growers, Hillier ON
> Edwin Thomas Jr., C,J.,s Produce, Savannah GA
> Tyler Montague, Keep It Real Vegetables, Salt Lake UT

These new farmers span generations, geographies and circumstances. They have different motivations, and describe their missions lots of different ways. Here’s what they have in common. They are all making farming visible to their communities and serving as role models, just as Wally did 23 years ago. As more neighborhood farmers like these become established, it becomes obvious where real food comes from, and why it is better. This will expand and solidify the already rapidly developing markets upon which sustainable local food systems are based.

By joining the thousands who have already taken Wally’s lead. they – and you – are part of one of the most significant, and still mostly unrecognized, stories of this first quarter century, and its message is this: there is value in lots of different people seeing themselves as professional farmers. They are having a positive impact in their communities and will be a major force in reshaping the farming industry for years to come.

“It’s embarrassing that we haven’t done this before.” –Jamiah Hargins