Thank you, Sophie and Martin!
As Sophie Ackoff and Martin Lemos transition out of their roles as co-executive directors this week, Young Farmers is filled with gratitude and appreciation for their tremendous service to our farmers, staff, partners, and communities. Over three years as leaders of this organization, they have guided the development of our new Strategic Plan with racial equity at its center, won accessible COVID relief for our farmers, brought on 30 new staff members, grown our budget four-fold, and supported a board transformation process. Read Sophie and Martin’s farewell letter here.
Thank you Sophie and Martin for helping us to take steps toward the future for agriculture we’ve dreamed of together; you will be missed!
We welcome Salima Jones-Daley, a long-time board member, to serve as Interim Executive Director while the Board conducts our executive search process for the next leaders of our coalition.
When Congress goes on recess each spring, Members return to their home districts for District Work Periods, or “in-districts.” In April, thirty-nine farmers in our network held thirty-two in-district meetings across the country with Members of Congress and staff to share about the challenges they face on their farms, and the policy solutions they need. Read the highlights from this year’s April in-district meetings by checking out our blog.
First 2023 Farm Bill Hearing
Earlier this month, Young Farmers Michigan Organizer Payge Lindow and Land Advocacy Fellows Candius Elliott and Detra Iverson represented our 2023 Farm Bill priorities during the first field hearing in Lansing, Michigan. Alex Ball of Old City Acres testified, speaking to the importance of crafting a farm bill that better serves young and BIPOC farmers. Read more about the hearing here.
USDA Hosts Its Second Equity Commission Public Meeting
Young Farmers Operations and Impact Director Michelle Hughes is a member of the USDA’s new Equity Commission, Agriculture Subcommittee. She joins former USDA officials, farmers, policy and legal experts, professors, community organizers and experts in civil rights in addressing racial equity issues at USDA. The Equity Commission and Agriculture Subcommittee held its second public meeting this month, where the Commission and Subcommittee members talked through what equity wins for the agriculture industry look like moving forward, and how to prioritize our recommendations to address root causes of recurring disparities for young farmers. More information on the meeting can be found on USDA’s Equity Commission website.
ICYMI: May Day Solidarity in the Fields
Did you know that California and New York are the only states that recognize the right of rural laborers to bargain with their employers over such basic matters as wages and work conditions? In honor of May Day, Yahaira Caceres, our new Immigration and Labor Policy Associate, shared a joint statement with our partners at Alianza Nacional de Campesinas about the importance of advocating for farmworker labor protections.
Congratulations to these grant winners!
Congratulations to this year’s Young Farmer Grant recipients! With support from Chipotle, we selected 50 young farmers from X states to receive $5,000 grants to tackle some of the challenges they face in reaching their farm dreams. You can read more about each of this year’s recipients here.
This year, five Young Farmers chapters also received our 2022 Muck Boot Chapter Capacity Grant, a $5,000 grant chapters can use to compensate their organizing efforts or cover expenses for a specific project, such as COVID-19 response efforts, racial equity trainings, or virtual platforms to increase connectivity. Read about two of our winners: the West Michigan’s larger food system vision and fund for BIPOC farmers, and about Choy Commons, a coalition of Asian American farmers and community organizers who seek to build food sovereignty in Asian American communities in New York.
New Mexico Water Fellowship Retreat
We recently hosted a retreat for our first New Mexico Water Fellowship, a program designed to prepare fellows for leadership positions on water decision-making bodies in New Mexico. On the retreat, the fellows bonded over an acequia walking tour, learned about the #WaterBack campaign, and exchanged ideas on how to advance water equity in New Mexico.
Throughout the fellowship so far, participants have received training on state water issues, developed their leadership skills, and connected with fellows and leaders across New Mexico who are passionate about water and environmental justice. The two-day retreat, packed with inspiring speakers and thoughtful conversations around water in New Mexico, concludes the training portion of the fellowship. Now, the fellows are off to seek leadership positions on New Mexico water boards and work on individual community projects with local and state water or environmental justice organizations
Cultivating Resilience Podcast
If you’re a farmer, you know the joys of working the land. You also know how stressful it can be—from family and financial pressures, to isolation and an exhausting job that has zero days off. In fact, agricultural workers experience suicide rates that are 50% higher than the national average, and that number is rising.
On Cultivating Resilience from Cultivemos, the network for cultivating farmer well-being (formerly the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network – Northeast), farm care starts with self-care. Join us as we dive into the stories of real, independent farmers on the struggles they face every day, and how they are overcoming them—things like family farm succession, economic burdens, and rural isolation. Throughout the series, we’ll provide resources to strengthen your mental well-being during stressful and uncertain times. And we’re building a community where farmers and ranchers can support each other, because even the hardiest plants need the right conditions to grow.
Young Farmers is Hiring!
Our team is growing! Make sure to check our Jobs page for opportunities to join our national staff.
- Land Organizing Director – Remote, Full-time
YoungFarmers is hiring a Land Organizing Director to lead grassroots strategy for our One Million Acres Campaign, harnessing the power of our farmer-leaders to deliver historic wins for equitable land transition in the 2023 Farm Bill. The priority deadline for applying is June 10th.
- Pennsylvania Organizer – Remote, Part-time (based in Pennsylvania)
Young Farmers seeks a Pennsylvania Organizer who will be the on-the-ground connection for our Pennsylvania network to the coalition. We are looking for an experienced base-builder who will support farmers with engaging in federal campaigns, such as land access, climate action, water, access to USDA programs, immigration, and student loans. The priority deadline to apply is May 20th.
- New Mexico Organizer – Remote, Part-time (based in New Mexico)
Young Farmers Coalition seeks an experienced campaigner and base-builder to join us in the role of New Mexico Organizer, who will work to expand our reach across the state and support farmers to engage in federal campaigns, including land access, climate action, water, access to USDA programs, immigration, and student loans. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
Welcome New Staff
We’re excited to welcome nine new staff members to the Young Farmers team this month!
- Kennedy Bradley, Field Director
Prior to joining Young Farmers, Kennedy’s career focused on serving marginalized communities through various nonprofit work in Chicago, Illinois. Initially starting her career as a therapist and case manager for those with mental illnesses, she eventually transitioned to community work through organizing for the Getting to Zero Illinois campaign at the AIDS Foundation Chicago. Having worked in the mental health, education, child welfare, and public health sectors, Kennedy is passionate about highlighting and educating on the interdependency between oppressed communities and their respective justice movements. Kennedy holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a MSW from the University of Chicago.
- Sam Brown, Corporate Engagement Manager
Sam decided to pursue development when she realized her lifelong love of talking to people had a place and purpose in the movement for climate justice. Currently, Sam lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York while wrapping up her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College. Although her background includes volunteer and educational programming, most recently she stewarded corporate partnerships at Transportation Alternatives, in addition to chairing the Transportation Alternatives Union. She is thrilled to join the coalition and support organized farmers across the country. She enjoys baking, reading, and early morning off-leash hours with her jack russell/cattle dog mix, Kelly.
- Evan Flom, Campaign Communications Associate
Evan supports the Coalition from the shores of Lake Superior, where he began working with regional farms in 2011. Originally from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Evan has worked in both urban and rural agricultural settings and has supported a variety of food justice initiatives through community non-profits. Poetry, gardening, running, and eating good food in good company are among his favorite passions.
- Ana Moran, Water Organizer
Ana Moran is a multi-racial Latinx womxn based in New Mexico. She has been volunteering on farms since college and has a deep passion for conservation and regenerative agriculture. Currently, she stewards land and maintains a farm in Albuquerque with a women’s farming collective she helped form over the last two years. Before starting with the Coalition, she worked as a national, regional, and state-based community organizer for almost a decade, organizing around civil rights, healthcare, labor, and electoral issues. She is currently working toward a dual M.S. in Community and Regional Planning and Water Resources. During her free time, Ana enjoys getting outdoors, attending community events, and writing poetry.
- Shelby Saucier, People and Operations Manager
Shelby is passionate about sustainability and building equitable systems and comes to Young Farmers with experience across multiple sectors. Starting their career as a farmer in Maine, Shelby transitioned into career counseling and international recruiting, international nonprofit management, and has most recently worked with GrowNYC to centralize and structure their recruiting and training initiatives. Shelby believes in the power of the collective, collective change, cooperation, and is a total systems nerd. You can find Shelby either double-checking payroll, collecting and implementing staff feedback, practicando su español, or hanging in their micro camper van with their partner and pup, Summit. Shelby holds a B.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and a M.A. in Global Policy and International Affairs.
- Tamisha Evonne Singletary, Federal Policy Coordinator
Tamisha Singletary brings over 15 years of experience as a community farmer and organizer committed to equity in sustainable living to the Young Farmers’ policy team. A co-founder to a 4.75 acre non-profit land project with four other young farmers, Singletary has also worked with five other growers’ organizations in their hometown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rooted in a common Black American familial story of southeastern agriculture, land loss, and northern migration, Tamisha is motivated to increase, maintain, and restore land security, food sovereignty, economic justice, and community health for all. This motivation has taken Singletary into land trust feasibility, community and city planning committees, garden and environmental education, international farmer solidarity work, and U.S. policy. This motivation even re-inspired their late great-grandmother to reconnect with her passion for growing food at home, a cherished memory of bonding with the last generation to touch their family’s farm.
- Ebonee Stevenson, USDA Access and Accountability Organizer
Ebonee Stevenson is a frontline veteran community development professional, Black urban farmer, journalist, and community-based educator. She is a self-professed agriculture nerd with over 15 years of experience focused on community organizing in marginalized communities of color. She has worked with many community-based organizations, unions, and religious and educational institutions and has worked on affordable housing preservation, youth homelessness, healthcare justice, and workers’ and tenants’ rights. Other issues she has organized around are juvenile detention, violence prevention, education reform, economic justice, and food oppression. She is very passionate about providing her community with true alternatives to violence, incarceration, and the street economy. In her spare time, she enjoys farming, fermentation, creating vegan meals, experimenting with different kimchi recipes, and binge-watching k-dramas.
- Eva Videla, Development Associate
Eva was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico. Her grandfather was a Bracero and is her inspiration for higher education and community work. Before joining Young Farmers, Eva worked as a resource development coordinator for a federally qualified health center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Eva holds a Master’s degree in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University and a B.A. in Communication and International Studies from The University of New Mexico. She likes to travel, cook, and spend time with her family and pets during her free time.
- Tabetha Zimmerman, Information Systems Manager
Tabetha is a tech professional with a passion for food access. She credits the free lunch program for her interest in tech after winning an academic scholarship in middle school that provided her with her first computer, igniting a passion for policy writing, food, and software development. This guided Tabetha to George Washington University to study Information Systems and Tourism Management in Washington, D.C. Before serving as the Information Systems Manager, Tabetha served as a technical training and skills expert for luxury hotel brands, including The Four Seasons and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. In this position, Tabetha would travel across the world, expanding the technical architecture for culinary and service teams while also eating as many new foods as possible. Tabetha’s teams won top-shelf industry awards, including AAA Five Diamonds and Michelin Stars. Tabetha now works with Young Farmers to identify how tech will propel the organization forward. When not at her computer, you will find Tabetha at a farmers market or traveling to a new city for a “must try” restaurant.