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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

Get a sneak peek of a new short film, “Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South” at Cinema Verde!

Folks in Gainesville will get a sneak peek of a locally produced film, Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South, at the local Cinema Verde environmental film festival on Sun., Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Depot Station, 201 SE Depot Avenue.

Hungry for Justice provides a snapshot of the injustices present in our current food system and introduces one of the promising market-based solutions that has arisen—Food Justice Certification.  It tells the story of one farm in the South and their commitment to focus on social justice issues for their farmworkers by seeking this certification and market label. Food Justice Certification, a project of the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), is a unique program in the domestic fair trade movement as it is the only verification program in the marketplace that has included farmworkers and farmworker representatives in the development of the certification standards and includes them in the verification process.  Hungry for Justice is a short film (16 minutes) and is just one of over 30 films being shown throughout the weekend.

The Fifth Annual Cinema Verde is being held Feb. 13 – 16, 2014 at the beautifully renovated historic Gainesville Depot Station, 201 SE Depot Ave. More than 30 films will be screened, with live music, food trucks and a beer garden running throughout the festival. An EcoFair showcasing local businesses will be held Sat., Feb. 15, as well as a Candidates Forum for city commission candidates.  Farmers are welcome to pay for a table to sell their produce as part of the EcoFair at Saturday.  Several filmmakers will join the event either in person or via Skype, including a visit with Mark Kitchell, director of Fierce Green Fire on Feb. 13.

The Cinema Verde film festival organizers are honoring farmers in two ways on Sun., Feb. 16.  Farmers get in free this day and there will be a local food potluck from 6 to 7 p.m. Please join us!  Potluck will be nestled right between Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South and GMO OMG.

A party will kick off the four-day festival with live music provided by Cathy DeWitt’s jazz trio Moon Dancer and tasty food and drinks from local restaurants. They will raffle off a pair of VIP Passes that will give access to all films and events throughout the festival, as well as four day passes. The VIP Reception is our way of thanking our sponsors and volunteers (for whom admission is free) and to highlight the films and showcase the businesses that make Cinema Verde a success.

Full schedule and film trailers can be viewed at www.CinemaVerde.org.

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.

Some Florida Farmworkers Still Enslaved

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In this article published May 10th, 2012 in the Tampa Bay Times, LeRoy Smith tells his story of escape from a labor camp in Hastings, Florida in 2010 where he was forced to work on a farm. Slavery still happens in our time.

Modern day slavery of farmworkers is facilitated by a lack of transparency in our food system and the public being accustomed to cheap food. It is cheap for a reason. Support those farmers who do the right thing. Buy Food Justice Certified organic products. Ask your grocery stores and restaurants where the food comes from. Ask them to carry domestic fair trade products from quality programs like Food Justice Certified. Support the Domestic Fair Trade Association. Know your farmer and know your food. This has got to stop and you have the power to vote with your dollar.

For more information about social justice programs at Florida Organic Growers, please contact Social Justice Coordinator Leah Cohen. [Photo credit: JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

 

Agricultural Justice Project

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FOG’s Social Justice Program

How can sustainable agriculture project our natural resources while ignoring our human resources?  It cannot. FOG has always been dedicated to promoting agricultural and food systems that protect our planet, the people  and animals who inhabit it, and our communities.  One of the main ways FOG has activated this mission is by participating as one of the founders and management committee members of the Agricultural Justice Project.

Agriculture cannot be sustainable when farmers  are subjected to injustice.  Farmers today face insurmountable debt, many needing to work off the farm in addition to their full time, physically demanding on-the-farm work. Some farmers are subjected to predatory contracts that give all the power to the agribusiness firms to which they sell their products, while forcing the farmer to shoulder the risk.  Agriculture under these circumstances is not sustainable.

Similarly, agriculture cannot be sustainable when farmworkers are subjected to injustice. Today in the United States grievous injustices still exist in dark corners of agriculture, where farmworkers don’t receive the same legal protections as other workers in the U.S. Some live in sub-standard housing, while some have their wages regularly held or stolen from them. Some farmworkers have had their passports confiscated from them, making it impossible for them to return home or find work on any other farm than the one that holds them.  Many are exposed to toxic substances that make them physically ill and create developmental problems in their unborn children. Some farmworker families have to send their children to work in the fields to make ends meet.  Agriculture under these circumstances is not sustainable either.

Florida Organic Growers, partnering with the Agricultural Justice Project, is working hard to bring justice and true sustainability to agriculture in the U.S.

Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certification

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is a co-founder of the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), which seeks to transform the dominant food system that has failed its farmers and workers into one where human rights and dignity are valued and rewarded, right along side protection of our natural resources.  To this end, AJP created a domestic fair trade food label backed and governed by food system stakeholders. The 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 third-party Food Justice Certified label means the highest standards of equity and fairness have been met, respecting all those who labor together to bring food to the table.

AJP’s food justice certification covers fair conditions and relationships for:
• Farmers and Buyers,
• Farmworkers and Food Business Workers,
• Farm Interns, and
• Children on Farms, in addition to requiring
• Protection of the environment (organic and sustainable farming practices)

For information and questions about the standards, trainings and technical assistance visit the AJP website or email agjusticeproject@gmail.com.

To sign up for participation in the launch of the program in the South email Leah Cohen.

Project partners are Florida Organic Growers, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas/Farmworker Support Committee, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Why Care about Fair?

Farmers:

To understand more about the challenged faced by family scale and organic and sustainable farmers in this country read up on predatory contracts, subsidies for large conventional agribusiness.  The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) works on protecting farmers from unfair contracts.

In the face of record low commodity prices and ever increasing market concentration, many U.S. farmers are turning to contracting for economic security. This program works to ensure these contract arrangements between individual farmers and processors are fair and equitable. Check out the latest news from their fight.

Farmworkers:

To understand more about the harsh conditions of farmworkers in this country, the efforts that some farmers are making to improve working conditions and the quality of life for farmworkers, and the advocates (including the Agricultural Justice Project) that are fighting for social justice in our food system check out this short three part video.  Also check out this farmworker factsheet.

The California Institute for Rural Studies is the only non-profit organization in California with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California’s rural communities. They often publish research on the conditions of farmworker in California which is one the biggest agricultural states in the US. Read more >>

Truth in Labeling:

Not all fair market claims are the same.  When there is money to be made in ethical products, there will always be many who seek to make that money and capture the market share.  Want to know more about how Food Justice Certification matches up to other fair trade certification programs?  The Fair World Project did an interview with each program to get answers to five key questions.   Learn more >>

In addition, the Domestic Fair Trade Association is in the process of developing a set of criteria by which to publish assessments of different fair trade market claims so the public can know what the differences really are. DFTA plans to have their final criteria published in 2012.  Check back periodically for updates.