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Posts Tagged ‘agricultural justice project’

Taste the Fairness in North Central Florida’s Watermelons

It is as hot as it gets in North Central Florida.

While most farmers are done with their season, their fields planted with cover crops, and most farmworkers have gone north for the summer farm season, Jordan Brown is picking watermelon alongside his workers.

It is no easy task getting them to the cooler and ready for grocery store shelves and CSA boxes, each watermelon ranging from 15 to 17 pounds. But at the end of the picking row, refreshing watermelon awaits and everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labor together – farmer and farmworker side-by-side.

FJC_Farm_1footby1foot (2)What is more meaningful to Farmer Brown is knowing that everyone working in the field is treated with respect and paid a living wage. Something that is rare in most American fields where deplorable working conditions continue and family farmers, trying to uphold principles of stewardship for land and people, are experiencing the increasing consolidation of power and market share in the hands of a few corporate food businesses. To Brown, the purpose of farming sustainably was not only to ensure that environmental stewardship is met, but that human decency is upheld to the highest degree.

Jordan Brown has been farming for eight years on his 25-acre farmland in Bell. His farm, The Family Garden, has staked their commitment to social justice by meeting the gold standards for domestic fair trade through Food Justice Certification (FJC).

Jordan’s produce is 100% Organic and 100% Food Justice Certified through third party verification programs.

When purchasing FJC products you can support a healthy food system that includes:

  • Rigorous standards for respectful treatment of farm employees
  • Fair pricing for farmers
  • Fair and equitable contracts for farmers and buyers
  • Clear conflict resolution policies for all throughout the food chain
  • A ban on full-time child labor together with full protection for children on farms
  • Living wages for employees
  • Safe working conditions
  • Commitment to continual improvement
  • Environmental stewardship through organic certification

Visit Ward’s Supermarket or Citizens Co-op in Gainesville to buy The Family Garden watermelons this season!

The Family Garden also sells to Global Organics who distribute fresh produce to the greater southeast region, Fresh 24 Market in Orlando, Homegrown Organics serving Gainesville and Ocala areas and Local Fare Farm Bag North serving the greater Jacksonville area.

You can also support fairness in the food system by visiting your local restaurants and requesting dishes made with Food Justice Certified ingredients! In Gainesville, that includes: The Top and Civilization restaurants.

The Agricultural Justice Project aims to bridge the gap between environmental stewardship of the land to include stewardship of the people who work the land and bring the food to our tables.

Food Justice Certified is unique as it is the only third party verification program to cover U.S. farmworkers and farmers, as well as other food system workers working in distribution centers, grocers, manufacturing – all links of the supply chain from farm to table. Standards and the verification process for the Food Justice Certified label were stakeholder developed and included farmers and farmworker representatives in a consensus-style governance structure. It is also uniquely a collaborative program that recognizes that improving conditions for farmworkers in the U.S. needs to include improving the terms farmers receive in selling goods.

For further information about the Agricultural Justice Project or Food Justice Certification, visit www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org.

Farmer Friday: Food Justice and The Family Garden

Do you believe in dignity, respect and human rights? This Farmer Friday, we will chat about food justice in the farm system. 

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Food Justice: Fair treatment for all who labor in the food and farm system

Buying organic is important not just for your personal health and the health of the land, but also for the health of those who work in the fields growing that food.  However, there are other challenges in our food system when you start looking through a social justice lens.

Did you know farmworkers are exempt from some of the labor laws that protect almost all other workers in the United States (e.g., such as right to overtime pay and right to organize)?

Farm work is consistently one of the top three most dangerous jobs in the United States and also one of the lowest paid jobs, with an average annual income of between $12,500 and $15,000 for an individual and $17,500 and $20,000 for a family.*

These statistics are shocking yet very real.

photo3In 1999, recognizing that the U.S. National Organic Program’s standards did not address the people involved in organic agriculture, FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh collaborated with other nonprofits working to create equity and fairness in our food system to begin a stakeholder process to develop standards for the fair and just treatment of the people involved in organic and sustainable agriculture. The group called the effort the Agricultural Justice Project(AJP).

AJP seeks to set the bar high for social justice in the food system and transform the dominant food system that has failed its farmers and workers into one where human rights and dignity are valued and rewarded, right alongside protection of natural resources.

AJP created a domestic fair trade food label, called Food Justice Certified, which is backed and governed by food system stakeholders. Food Justice Certification is unique in the high level of integrity set by the comprehensive standards, the non-proprietary approach, and the inclusion of farm worker organizations in the inspections.

The Family Garden, a 25-acre Certified Organic farm located in Bell, was the first farm in the south to apply for the Food Justice Certified label. BrownFamily_cropped

“I want to grow food as respectfully and honorably as I can,” said Jordan Brown, owner of The Family Garden. “I have experienced positive feedback from many of our customers and others in the community in regards to our Food Justice Certified label. The positive feedback has helped us establish more loyal customers.”

“I am glad there are organizations working together to create a certification, to have a third party come in and verify what the farms are saying and create a level of accountability.”

To further advocate for farmworker rights, FOG, along with AJP and Little Bean Productions, created Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South, a social justice film that tells the story of The Family Garden and their commitment to focus on social justice issues for their workers by seeking Food Justice Certified label.

FOG’s passion is to advocate for farmer and farmworker rights, dignity and respect for the environment. 

                                                            Please join us as we continue our fight for all who labor in the food and farm system and become a FOG member today!

*NAWS 2007-2009 data published by National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc. 

Fairer Eggplant

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Farmer Jordan Brown of The Family Garden Breaks New Ground on Social Justice for Farmworkers

As part of preparing for the Food Justice Certification, farmworkers at The Family Garden farm receive training from the Farmworker Association of Florida on their rights under the law and under the Food Justice Certification.

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 Family Garden, a certified organic farm owned by Jordan Brown, is working toward becoming the first Food Justice Certified farm in the southeastern United States.

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.”

When we buy food in the store it is too easy to not think about the conditions forced upon those who worked the land and harvested the food. Food Justice Certification ensures that farmworkers are treated fairly and know what their rights are legally and what their employer has committed to do above and beyond the law.

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.

Farmworker is one of the most dangerous occupations and health and safety training is one essential piece to treating farmworkers fairly and having an highly participatory training style increases ownership by farmworkers of their role in safety on the farm.

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.”

To learn more about the Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certified Program, visit www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org.

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.