Environmental and Food Justice :

real food 2WESPAC Foundation supports Environmental and Food Justice with a separate listserv used for promoting upcoming events and discussion. WESPAC opposes fracking and two of our members have produced a documentary that highlights Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives on fracking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdwCKzqVRdQ. We have cultivated an extensive cooperative network of food justice activists around the county who seek to expand access to fresh, local food. We also partner with the Wassaic Community Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): http://wassaiccommunityfarm.com. To get involved or for more information, please contact the office at 914.449.6514 or by email at [email protected]

Join us on Thursday, November 19th at noon for an interactive conversation where we learn about the challenges and joys of being a cacao grower in today’s world.  Lalatiana Andrianarison, one of the Beyond Growers, will join us after a two day drive from his cacao farm to  the capital (where the chocolate factory is located), a journey spanning over 800km.

We will speak with a team in Madagascar, an island country off the coast of East Africa who work with Beyond Good chocolate, a company committed to purchasing premium cocoa directly from farmers so that they can receive the best prices for their heirloom crop and avoid outsourcing their impact to a third party certification. 

This was a fabulous presentation today by Evan Pritchards and very well attended:

White Plains, formerly known as Quarropus, was once well known as a fossil-free transportation hub; the meeting place of three important watersheds connecting the mid-Hudson with the East River and Long Island Sound. White Plains and its neighbors today span seven strategically located waterways, and the portage routes where the Siwanoy and Weckquaesgeek peoples once carried their canoes from one to the other are still in place. By making and marking new trails, supporting local canoers with information and supplies, and a few other inexpensive and potentially lucrative changes, White Plains could add a new layer to its infrastructure that would make it the DIY “Venice of New York,” boosting business and recreational traffic in a way that makes a bold statement about America’s future. All we have to do is GET OUT THE BOAT!

EVAN PRITCHARD, guest on The History and Discovery channels, ABC and CNN, is a Mi’kmaq descendant, an award-winning historian, author of over seventy books, environmental activist, guest educator on Sloop Clearwater, founder of a Center for Algonquin Culture, and former professor of Native American Studies at Vassar, Pace, and Marist. This talk is based on his newest book Mapping Manahatoauc. (currently self published): 

https://www.facebook.com/WESPACFOUNDATION/videos/218938262894364/

For those of you who missed the presentation today, it was recorded in its entirety (one hour) and has been posted on our Facebook page and website. We had over 80 people attend the presentation.  There is clearly much interest in this subject.  For all of you who asked questions, I am forwarding to the presenters and you should be hearing from them soon.  You can watch the presentation here

The three presenters were:

Patti Wood is the founder and Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education, Inc., an award-winning science-based non-profit organization. A Visiting Scholar at Adelphi University, Ms. Wood lectures on the environment and related health issues in the College of Nursing and Public Health. She is the recipient of the 2016 national EPA Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award, and is the author of “Helping to Heal,” a book for parents of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

 

Doug Wood is the Associate Director & Chief Strategy Officer for Grassroots Environmental Education, Inc., and the Founder and Director of Americans for Responsible Technology.  An accomplished filmmaker, Mr. Wood’s documentary films on environmental issues and children’s health have been widely acclaimed and used by organizations around the world to promote protective public health policies.

 

Dr. Devra Davis is the founder and president of Environmental Health Trust. She is the author of more than 200 studies and publications published in the Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Scientific American and the New York Times. Dr. Davis was the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Good morning, all,

I am working with local, county and state authorities to create a pollinator pathway on the large grassy patch in front of the WESPAC office.  I will keep you posted as soon as the NYS Thruway Authority gives its final okay.  A big thank you to Anne Jaffe Holmes with the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County who has given me excellent guidance and has connected me to key people.  I am also grateful to Patricia Weems who has made excellent connections on our behalf.
 
If you are interested in donating your expertise or human labor to creating this pathway once the approval comes in, please let me know!  We are very excited about this project as there are so many benefits.   Municipalities all over the world are figuring out ways to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels with lawn mowing.  There are many, many secondary benefits to creating meadows and pollinator pathways including preserving micro diversity of local flora and fauna, protecting native plants and species, enhancing the health of our overall local ecosystem, increased nourishment for our local pollinators (without which we have vastly reduced food supply) and on and on:  https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/dublin-in-bloom-city-thrives-under-new-wilding-policy-1.4235320

This is such an amazing offering from our precious local farmers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you: 

This is a community effort of farmers, growers, and non profits organizing to support our community in this time of need, in the Westchester, NY area. Our Mission is to assemble “grow-bags” from our nurtured seedlings and burlap sacks. These grow- bags will be near fruiting stage and will provide you and your family with a bountiful harvest throughout the season, with care. Please see the flyer for full information and fill out the Google Form to request and reserve your vegetable grow-bags and arrange delivery. We will deliver around the Westchester area, starting on 4/29. Please feel free to contact us with any questions! See the flyer for information.

https://forms.gle/oQkHFQC8vg2FxwrK6

Best,

Natalia

Ruby Olisemeka is a Food Justice leader in Mount Vernon and will be coordinating a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery in her home town of Mount Vernon. The food is being produced by Rock Steady Farm in Millerton, NY, and will help provide nourishing, high quality produce to dozens in Mount Vernon. Rock Steady Farm and Flowers is a women and queer owned cooperative farm, rooted in social justice, growing sustainable vegetables, flowers and herbs in a holistic manner for our Hudson Valley bioregion. The WESPAC Food Justice fund has contributed $4,000 to this CSA effort, and we are hoping to raise another $6,000 to help nourish at least fifty people in need for the twenty week growing season. Every person has a right to high quality, fresh and local food.
If you would like to make a contribution for this effort, you may do so here: https://donorbox.org/rock-steady-farm-csa-delivery-in-mount-vernon
Thank you very much in advance for considering,
Nada

Corinne Segal has done a fabulous job with this interview on our food system, and how appropriate that it comes out on International Human Rights Day and on the day that we discuss Eric Holt-Gimenez’s book tonight at WESPAC at 7pm on Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?
Take a look here: https://www.slowfoodmetronorth.org/…/nada-khader-on-the-pol… Thank you, Corinne!

We had a good group that came together including Martha Elder who has presented at WESPAC before (thanks to Tracy’s introduction).  She is the founder of Second Chance Foods and was recently featured on Channel 12 News: 
 
Here is Martha’s website: https://secondchancefoods.org/  She is doing very important food rescue work in our region and is getting fresh, healthy foods to those who need them most.  She will reach out to WESPAC in the coming weeks at times when she needs additional support.
 
Antoinette has sent in a suggestion about reviewing Westchester County’s mapping of food deserts.  Sonna will do some research to see if we can identify where these food deserts are located and how we can help address this.
 
Dan Wohl has invited the WESPAC Food Justice Committee to convene at his new workplace:  the Greenhouse and Education Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY.  He is working on developing food security networks between NYC and the Hudson Valley.  Nada reached out to Chloe to see if she would like to bring her youth along for this outing.
 
Doug DeCandia gave us a substantial update about his current work: he is growing herbs and flowers with inmates at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons and is working with the mental health units.  He shared some wonderful photos with Nada of his work that are available upon request.  He and Jalal are exploring the idea of teaching a horticulture and nutrition course at Sing Sing.  He discussed the challenges of working with prison authorities in terms of getting fresh produce from a local CSA into the prison.  They are trying to see if the CSA produce could be added to the commissary list and could arrive in cardboard boxes to alleviate the security concerns of the prison authorities.  It is all a work in progress.  He will be in touch with us in the coming weeks and months at moments when he may need additional support for this important work.  Additionally, this weekend he is offering a workshop on the necessity of building equity in our food system at this soil and nutrition conference in Massachusetts:  https://soilandnutrition.org/
 
We also discussed if, at the county government level, we could get buy in from the county to have any county operated facility commit to purchasing food for their cafeteria from local, small scale Hudson Valley ecological farmers and growers.  This change alone would be transformative for our local economy and would have a serious impact on reducing our carbon footprint and would help with climate change issues along with habitat and farm preservation and the promotion of biodiversity, the health of our precious pollinators and so much more.
 
We also discussed the utility of having a listing of all farms in Westchester County listing what items are grown and where they are made available.  This list may already be available – we need to research.  We would want to include here private property that is being leased to farmers to grow produce, flowers, herbs, raise animals, chickens, bee keeping etc.
 
Our December WESPAC Book Club gathering will take place on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm with a discussion of “Can We Feed the World without Destroying It” by  Eric Holt Giménez.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Nada
 

On September 20 people everywhere will walk out of their homes and workplaces to join young strikers in the streets. We know governments won’t deliver climate action and justice on their own, so we’re going on #ClimateStrike to show them what people power is capable of. #StrikeWithUs ClimateStrikeNYC.net 
 
WESPAC is organizing a solidarity contingent to participate in the historic youth organized NYC Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th with Greta Thunberg who has just arrived in NYC from Sweden in an emission free racing yacht as she plans to speak at the UN on the urgency of climate change and the need to take action.
 
WESPAC Board Member Delia Marx will be our point person for the WESPAC solidarity contingent. On Friday, September 20th, she and others will catch the 10:41am train from White Plains arriving at Grand Central at 11:28am to then take the subway down to Foley Square which is the starting point for the Climate Strike. Please email Delia if you would like to be part of our contingent at [email protected]. If you are coming down on a separate train line and would like to ride down to Foley Square together, please let Delia know so that we can have a designated meeting point at Grand Central.
 
In the US, youth and adults, institutional and grassroots organizations, climate-focused and social justice groups, are coming together as a unified front to demand the change we need to save our future. The youth have been leading the way and demanding bolder action, and now it’s time for everyone else to back them up. 

To accomplish this, a youth climate strike coalition has come together to collaborate on the campaign. The youth strike coalition, coordinated by Future Coalition, includes national youth-led groups such as Zero Hour, Earth Uprising, Fridays For Future USA, Sunrise, US Youth Climate Strike, and Extinction Rebellion Youth. 

The climate crisis is the largest threat of our time, and we’re counting on our collective power to demand immediate and decisive action. This is our opportunity to move beyond the traditional climate bubble and expand the table of who is involved in this movement. It is time to lift up the voices and stories of young people on the frontlines of this crisis and ensure we are creating an intergenerational and intersectional climate justice movement. To join the New York Climate Strike, please click here.

Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty 

An Evening with Amani Olugbala and Soul Fire Farm
Wednesday, November 28th at 7pm at WESPAC
77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W
White Plains, NY 10607

 

“Stewarding our own land, growing our own food, educating our own youth, participating in our own healthcare and justice systems, this is the source of real power and dignity,” writes Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY.  Her brand new book, “Farming While Black” is the centerpiece for a special gathering at WESPAC.
 
Come hear Amani Olugbala, Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm, tell how our most cherished sustainable farming practices – from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA – have roots in African wisdom.  She is a gifted storyteller and food justice advocate with over 15 years of experience in youth education and community outreach and a vital part of Soul Fire Farm.

Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. 
 
Books will be available for sale.  This event is free and open to the public.  Plenty of free parking on site.  Contributions to support this work will be gratefully accepted.