Through the Rainier Beach Farm Stand, we work towards food justice by increasing access to local produce and uplifting BIPOC farmers. Although this work is revolutionary, it is not the end all be all. We want to achieve food sovereignty: that is complete ownership over our food systems. Whether it be farmland to grow produce, school lunches for our young people, or the nearest food business that you can count on for dinner.
Imagine if these systems were not privatized and profit-driven but were designed for the local community to own, influence, and operate? Would we have less hungry people then? Would crime, illness, and death rates decrease as a result? While these questions may yet to have answers, I think it’s integral to this work that we continue to ask them, not just in the food justice space but in all work striving for just systems.
As the Food Justice Coordinator here at RBAC, my work sits at the intersection of many lanes, people, and communities. Recently, we’ve been working to increase the capacity of our Corner Greeters and activate more locations in Rainier Beach. A layer of this work is to establish relationships with the local businesses of this area as a means to support one another, activate space, promote public safety, and also to discuss nutrition and food for the community.
We know that the pandemic has financially impacted small businesses, but on the flip side the recognized need for community support was deep. Shout out to all the underinvested communities and businesses that have since touched some type of relief or support. It only took a global pandemic for the government to pay attention, but it was us, the people of this community, of Rainier Beach, and the greater South End that have come together to uplift one another.
Whether you are a single human being, a for-profit business, or a non-profit organization, whether it’s through people or through money and resources, dismantling systems does not happen in a vacuum. In the meantime, new systems need to be imagined and built upon. Safe space and solidarity need to be held within our current one. There’s a place for everyone in this work. So, plug in and never stop asking why or how. But the answer to who is you!