Two out of three farmers and farm workers say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health according to a poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation. FRSAN-NE is working to support the livelihoods of agricultural producers, workers, and their families in the Northeast as they cope with COVID-19 stress.
This newsletter shares COVID-19 resources, training opportunities, and a Network Member feature on Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust.
Upcoming Network Events and Trainings
Three-Part Series to Support FRSAN Service Providers During COVID-19
Migrant Clinicians Network and the Witness-to-Witness Program are pleased to announce a three-part series of 90-minute online seminars. The seminars will provide frameworks to better understand the stressors faced by service providers and the people they serve as well as strategies to enhance resilience. Kaethe Weingarten, Ph.D., retired Harvard Medical School faculty psychologist will present on all three topics that include
Kaethe Weingarten, Ph.D., was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology for the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry from 1981-2017 and a faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge for thirty years where she founded and directed the Program in Families, Trauma and Resilience. She directs the Witness-to-Witness Program (W2W), sponsored by MCN, that is dedicated to helping the helpers.
Session 1 | Witnessing: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Hardship and Trauma and What to Do About It
Tuesday, April 6th at 1:00pm EST
Working with farmers at this moment in time exposes providers to stories of hardship as well as examples of breathtaking adaptation and courage. However, regardless of whether the stories providers hear are challenging or uplifting, being a witness takes a toll. The premise of this online seminar is that the helpers need help to manage the distress that comes with the role of witness and helper. Sometimes the distress comes directly from the stories providers are told by the people they work with or interactions they directly observe. Sometimes the distress comes from the people who administer the policies and procedures that affect the people they serve. And often the distress derives from both sources. Providers may also have their own challenging histories. Current situations may trigger memories of difficult personal experiences, making it harder to cope with contemporary stress. This session examines all these topics, in addition to sources of resilience and reasonable hope.
Session 2 | Managing Stress During Uncertain Times
Tuesday, April 20th at 1:00pm EST
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way we function in our homes, schools, and jobs. Many service providers, considered essential workers, continue to work outside the home and are experiencing stress far beyond normal levels. Work stress is combined with concern for their families who are also living through difficult situations, including worry about them. While deeply concerned about caring for the people they serve, service providers are also rightly concerned about themselves. They need constructive ways to understand the current context and approaches to caring for themselves so that they can remain emotionally resilient while they do their work. This online seminar will provide a general understanding of common emotional responses to the pandemic – worry, anxiety, demoralization, moral distress — and provide efficient strategies to deal with them. Participants will be able to create a personalized resilience toolkit by the end of the webinar that will be useful in their work with the farmers.
Grief in the Time of Covid-19: Loss, Connection and Hope
Tuesday, May 4th at 1:00pm EST
As the losses mount with the ongoing assaults of the Covid19 pandemic, people are feeling a range of emotions. Confusion, fear, anger, and sadness are strong as is grief. Grief usually takes shared public forms; during the pandemic, there are constraints. This online seminar presents materials about grief in general and grief in the circumstances of the pandemic. Participants will discuss the particular difficulties of managing grief in rural communities and in circumstances of isolation. We will discuss ways to support others – clients, friends, colleagues, family members — without becoming overburdened ourselves. We will learn how to avoid empathic pitfalls while offering support.
Cohort Kick Offs
Attending a Cohort Kick Off is the first of just a few easy steps to join a Cohort in which you will collaborate with others to address farmer and farm worker stress, receiving an honorarium for your participation.
April 15 at 2 pm EST: Register here
April 15 at 6 pm EST: Register here
Invite your colleagues to join one of the cohorts (listed below) or ask them to form a new one! There is room at the table for everyone!
Current Cohorts: BIPOC, Farmworkers, Extension, Queer, Mental Health, Veterans, Farm Communication Coaching, Financial Stress, Beginning Farmer & Land Access, and Legal.
Uprooting Racism in the Food System
The Uprooting Racism in the Food System training is a theory and action workshop for environmental and food justice leaders to uproot systemic racism in our organizations and society. We delve deep into the history and structural realities of racial injustice and develop an understanding of the movement strategies of frontlines communities struggling for food sovereignty. We will examine our personal and societal roles of complicity in and resistance to the system. Much of the time will be spent developing tangible action plans – to use our sphere of influence to uproot these oppressions. True to Soul Fire Farm’s values and culture, this work will be rooted in fierce love, courageous self-reflection, and healing connection to land.
Wednesday, May 12th from 1 pm – 4 pm EST
Please share with your organizations and colleagues – we recommend that all Network Members participate!
Farmer mental health has suffered during COVID-19 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farmers and farmworkers are 10% more likely than rural adults to have experienced feeling nervous, anxious or on edge during the pandemic (65% vs 55%) and 7% more likely (52% vs 45%) to say stress and mental health have become more of a problem in their community in the past year. 87% of farmers say it is important to reduce stigma about mental health in the agriculture community.
FRSAN-NE is working to support farmers in the continued COVID-19 pandemic:
- National Young Farmers Coalition provides a COVID-19 FAQ and a Resource Library
- Migrant Clinicians Network connects service providers with COVID-19 resources about farmworkers, vaccination, and mental health – with several resources in English and Spanish
- USDA lists financial assistance opportunities for farmers during COVID-19
- ATTRA shares webinars, food safety guides, and community responses to COVID-19, along with resources in Spanish
- Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) published a Farmer’s Guide to COVID-19, available in a condensed version through Farm Aid
- Cornell’s Small Farm Program offers guides to building farm resiliency during any type of crisis, with a particular focus on the pandemic.
Network Member Feature: North East Farmers of Color Land Trust
Who We Are & What We Do
The Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC LT) is a hybrid model land trust, bringing together a community land trust model and a conservation land trust model to reimagine land access as well as conservation and stewardship of communities and ecosystems with the goal of manifesting a community vision that uplifts global Indigenous, Black, and POC relationships with land, skills, and lifeways.
We are advancing permanent and secure land tenure through:
- rematriating land and seeds;
- farmland stewardship;
- preservation and expansion;
- envisioning ways to be in reciprocity with land and creation; and
- by reimagining what the word “farmer” stands for.
We are working to conserve land through protecting native species ecosystems, engaging in regenerative farming and agroforestry, and advancing environmental policy that upholds the Rights of Nature (Personhood).
Our land trust centers BIPOC voices and leadership and honors Indigenous sovereignty, while healing colonial harm and protecting our future by creating a carbon drawdown in the Northeast and informing climate policy locally, regionally, and nationally.
NEFOC LT staff and Board of Directors embody diverse skill sets in cooperative development, climate justice, food and land sovereignty, farming and herbalism, education, and Global Indigenous ways of honoring the land and one another.
Dr. Gabriela Pereyra (Ella | She)
Land Network Weaver, Land Network Program Co-Director
Gaby Pereyra is a Venezuelan/Uruguayan transplant to Lenape territory. Her immense love for plant ancestors started at an early age, when she began to learn anything and everything about them, especially their relationship to people in agro-ecosystems. Gaby’s current responsibility as Land Network Weaver is to seed and strengthen relationships, networks, collaborations, and knowledge exchange among Black, Indigenous, and other land stewards of color. Over the past 15 years, Gaby has worked alongside farmers and land stewards from the Americas, Africa, and Europe, learning about the magical trade-off of carbon, nitrogen, and water between the soil, plants, and the sky. As a descendent of immigrant and refugee ancestors and as an immigrant herself, her commitment is to the re-connection of communities and land, under land tenure models that support human beings and non-humans beings, to create more equitable possibilities for our future ancestors. Contact Gaby at firstname.lastname@example.org