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Moving forward with black indigenous people of color and marginalized communities

Haki Farmers Collective

Haki means Justice in swahili—a widely spoken language in Africa. Haki Farmers collective seeks to bolster and reincorporate traditional and inherently sustainable farming knowledge that is present in our migrant and indigenous communities. By holding close decolonization frameworks, Haki seeks to encourage people of color (POC), including indigenous peoples and the black decendents of American slavery, to reclaim life-giving knowledge of sustainable farming and plant medicine creation.

Haki will also partner with other organizations whose vision is to dismantle racism in our community.

At Haki we believe the need to find our roots, examine and use our nearly erased traditional practices, and disseminate this knowledge is an urgent mission to care for our bodies, souls, and especially our planet.

Black farmers and farmers of color have a long history of being discriminated against and left out of many government-sponsored agricultural programs. This has led to a huge gap in farm ownership in America. Data from Washington State Department of Agriculture reveal that there are only three black farmers and 19 American Indian/Alaskan Native, 27 Asian, three Hawaian Native/Pacific Islander, 63 Hispanic, 20 Laotian, Spanish, 20 mixed race farmers, compared to 2,048 white/caucasian.

Haki will be led and will work with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Transgender, LGBQIA, Disabled, and other marginalized community members, to educate, train and increase accessibility to healthy food. We are honored to partner with two leaders in food and farming justice, GruB, a local leader in urban farming, and the Community Land Trust of Thurston County, a leader in reclaiming and protecting agricultural farms. Haki will also partner with other organizations whose vision is to dismantle racism in our community and increase food accessibility to marginalized communities.

Haki plans on engaging youth in educational programs throughout Thurston County, working with local schools as well as other programs whose work aligns with Haki’s mission. Through this program, middle and high school aged youth would learn decolonized farming practices that include nutritional foods and plant medicines—much needed during unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs will also give opportunity to youth and community members to explore new healthy foods from around the world.

Haki farms programming will offer free education to BIPOC community members, ranging from entry level at-home farming to more technical knowledge based on the needs of specific communities, and the natural resources provided at various Haki Farm sites. Programs will also include the opportunity for traditional knowledge from different communities to be taught on-site with the aid of an educator. There, we will showcase the various ways of farming from our immigrant and indigenous communities to keep this knowledge alive, keeping open minds and introducing new ideas of sustainable farming.

COVID–19 has tremendously affected the BIPOC community. Haki recognizes that this pandemic has magnetized the systemic injustices and discrimination faced by BIPOC and other marginalized communities. Our goal is to provide a continuous outreach program to these communities who have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and aggravated poverty.

Mercy Kariuki-McGee is co-founder of the Mazigazi Band and with Elisa McGee, of Haki Farmer’s Collective, as well as founder of Amplified Voices of Olympia. She emigrated here from Kenya over two decades ago. Elisa McGee is a graduate of Evergreen. She has collaborated with local artists and businesses on a variety of media projects, outreach and education.

For more information about the project, email Haki Farmers Collective, or visit the Haki Farmers Collective Giving Portal.

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