Thursday, February 9, 2012

Immigration and Farming

I don't know a whole lot about immigration or farming. I barely hold my own in English and am hopeless when it comes to speaking other languages. I am notoriously lazy and don't care for yard work, let alone weeding the garden. So spending a weekend with hundreds of exceptional refugees, immigrants, farmers, and educators is simultaneously humbling and inspirational. This was my second year volunteering for the Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference, and I gain as much from the experience as do the farmers the conference is meant for. The more I learn, the more respect and gratitude I have for the people who feed us 

This year I met farmers Juan and Maria. Their family farm is in Stewart, near Glencoe. As is the situation with most small farmers, Juan and Maria don't make enough profit from farming to live off of. Juan works full-time at 3M while Maria tends the fields. They sell their pesticide-free produce at farmers markets, and generously gifted me with a few jars of their salsa. (Juan asked about my salsa preference. My response: Bring the heat!)

I also met Jose Luis VillaseƱor, the executive director of Tamales y Bicicletas. He told me about a project he is working on with the youth of color in Minneapolis. The students explore issues of food inequity, create activities designed to address inequities, and go back to their peers and teach them about those issues.

The StarTribune did a nice piece on the conference. Read that here, and I featured it in this week's Called to the Table.

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