This is the fourth installment in a blog series featuring the winners of our 2022 Muck Boot Chapter Capacity Grant Program. The grant program awarded five Young Farmers chapters with $5,000 to compensate their organizing efforts or to cover expenses for a specific project, such as COVID-19 response efforts, racial equity trainings, or virtual platforms to increase connectivity.
The Mile High Young Farmers Chapter is a grassroots network of farmers and farmer advocates who are committed to working towards social, environmental, and economic justice in the Denver, Colorado area. The chapter prioritizes racial equity and understands that part of racial equity work is being able to adequately compensate community members for their labor and expertise. This year, the chapter received a Muck Boot Chapter Capacity Grant, which they used primarily to compensate community members for work they typically do on behalf of the chapter on a volunteer basis.
The Mile High chapter hosts an annual Mile High Producer Summit, where they bring together producers from all over the Denver area to shape the future of urban farming in their community. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the most recent summits have been virtual, but with the use of the grant, the chapters were able to make these virtual events highly interactive and inclusive. The chapter paid Vice President JaSon Auguste to develop a website for attendees to log in and participate in discussion boards during the summit and in live virtual sessions on Zoom. The chapter was also able to pay for translation and interpretation services, enabling Spanish speaking farmers to participate. The chapter offered $15 DoorDash coupons to participants as a way to encourage farmers to attend and support local food businesses.
The grant funds also supported their members’ participation in the annual racial equity challenge hosted by Food Solutions New England, which happens over the course of a month and focuses on dismantling racism and building equity in the food system. For four years the chapter has joined this challenge, but this year was the first in which they were able to hire a facilitator for the weekly discussion sessions they host for their members to talk about their reflections. For the next racial equity challenge, the chapter hopes to be able to host more frequent discussions sessions based on feedback they received from members.
The chapter capacity grant also supports their development and outreach coordinator, Willow Cozzens, who focuses on fundraising and development, chapter communications, and managing chapter membership. The support provided by the development of this role has made the chapter’s work more sustainable in the long-term. Willow supports the chapter’s committees, which focus on different topics: land access, farmer education and wellness, policy, justice and equity, and farmers markets. With the grant, the chapter was able to fund the committees to host events that wouldn’t have been possible before. In the future, the chapter hopes to be able to compensate chapter leaders for their work, following the example of other chapters like the Flatiron Young Farmers chapter.
Chapters of the National Young Farmers Coalition are the purpose for and partners in our mission to shift power and change policy to equitably resource our new generation of working farmers. Check out our website to see existing chapters in your area and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss starting a chapter.