Farmer Jordan Brown of The Family Garden Breaks New Ground on Social Justice for Farmworkers
On an overcast day in October on a farm in north central Florida, a farmer gathered his workers to teach them about the important role they play in the success of the farm; and their right to safe working conditions, just treatment, and fair compensation.
The Food Justice Certified label was developed by the Agricultural Justice Project. AJP began as a cooperative effort in 1999. Leah Cohen represents one of the founding groups, Florida Organic Growers. “Food Justice Certification allows growers to place a label on their specialty crops and products as a signal to conscious consumers,” said Cohen. “Many consumers have questions about the treatment of the farmworkers and others in the food system that helped bring the harvest to them. Our Food Justice Certification allows consumers to rest assured that what they are buying is certified to standards that include fair, just, and safe treatment of all those that labor in agriculture.”
The Agricultural Justice Project’s standards were originally developed over four years of stakeholder input. “It was important to us to get input on the standards from across the food chain,” said Cohen. “It was critical to the project to ask those who live the daily experiences of injustices in our food system how to codify in concrete terms what a legitimate claim of social justice would be,” said Cohen. “The standards came from stakeholders and the project continues to be governed by food system stakeholders means it will stay true to those who bring us our food. Of course one of the first things we heard from those who work in the fields is that it is not just to be exposed to toxic synthetic chemicals on a daily basis, so organic and ecologically sustainable agriculture was the starting point from which we expanded.”
“As my workers and I learned together about AJP’s social justice standards, I became even more sure that I had made the right decision for my farm and the people who work alongside me and my family here,” said Brown.
The Food Justice Certification training was facilitated by Florida Organic Growers, and conducted by trained members of the Farmworker Association of Florida, like Jeannie Economos. “Farmworkers do some of the hardest and yet most important work in this country. Too often their work, and they themselves, are taken advantage of because of their ethnic and/or socio-economic status,” said Economos. “Now, through this work and this project, we have an opportunity to turn things around – for farmworkers and for conscientious farmers in the U.S. This is a gigantic step forward.”
Conducted in Spanish, the training taught Brown and his workers about cooperation, collaboration, openness and transparency in their dealings with each other. They also learned about their rights and responsibilities under U.S. laws and the more stringent AJP standards.
“We’re taking a big step together, being the first farm in the southeast U.S. to participate in this program,” said Brown. “I’ve learned a lot from the process and am excited to see the program grow.”
Parts of this article were re-printed in the Gilchrist County Journal. Read the article here>>
If you would like to support The Family Garden in their social justice efforts by purchasing their produce, it can be found in the following locations:
- Thursdays at University of Florida campus CSA pick up. Click here for more info about joining the CSA for next season.
- Saturday morning 441 farmer’s market.
- Wards Grocery and Citizen’s Co-op.
- Various restaurants around town including Tempo Bistro, Civilization, and The Top.