BOOST, our community partnership program, was founded, in part, to ensure that our giving aligned with our values – values that have evolved over the years in step with our consciousness to see that food justice, social justice and racial justice are all connected. With gratitude to you, our customers, we’re thrilled to report that since the BOOST blast-off on February 1st earlier this year, we’ve raised over $15,000 in support of climate change awareness and climate justice (Climate Generation), transparency in our food system (Right to Know Minnesota) and cultivating a new crop of future youth leaders who understand the important role of food in growing equitable communities (Urban Roots) – all key components of a socially just society.
Our new BOOST partner, Land Stewardship Project (LSP), is yet another amazing organization working hard to be the change for the kind of world we want to see. LSP is a membership-based organization; members are farmers and mostly rural citizens but a growing number of urban people too, all who care about good food, the people who grow it and the land it’s raised on. In our country, where it’s easier to comply with the status quo of Big Ag, LSP works locally and nationally, as an advocate for transformational change in our food and farming system, in support of the the land, people and animals we depend on for our food. LSP’s impact is both broad and deep, from new farmer training and local organizing, to federal policy (think Farm Bill and TPP!) and community-based food systems development like Hope Community. Through organizing, education and activism, LSP builds power from the ground up, laying the foundation for healthy communities to thrive.
At Birchwood, we embrace LSP’s definition of “healthy communities,” which lies at the intersection of food, racial and social justice. In a recent statement “Racism is Real, Deadly and Not Sustainable,” shared in response to the tragic killing of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer, LSP’s Executive Director George Booty says that healthy communities “require fairness and equity, including racial equity. Structural racism includes by definition historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal dynamics. Because it is embedded in our society, it advantages whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Thus it is in direct opposition to healthy communities. Until we confront structural racism embedded in our society’s institutions, policies and ways of operating, and shift the focus to racial equity, we will not achieve a sustainable society.”
We’ve been immersed in the Good Food movement for over 20 years, connecting people with Good Real Food to raise awareness and inspire action toward a vision of a healthy food system that works for everyone. Since Ferguson, a dawn of new understanding for so many, we’ve been waking up and have begun to grasp the depths of the institutionalized racism that exists in our society and grapple with what that means for us as a white owned business with mostly white employees and a mostly white customer base. This understanding sparked our support of Black Lives Matter, a first step in our commitment to be the change in all our country’s systems, in the structures and policies that disenfranchise workers, build barriers to access, undermine our democracy and uphold a narrative of fear that would keep us separate and not equal. We see that these same structures and policies beget violence, untold trauma, and tragic loss of life. As Adrienne Maree Brown poignantly penned, “Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to lift the veil.”
Land Stewardship has been a longtime ally in building a new food system. George Booty clearly lifts the veil to call out racism, and in so doing emboldens us and others in the food movement to do the same. Their actions inspire, affirm and motivate us to claim our own role and responsibilities to speak out and take bigger steps, both as a leader in our movement and as a community business. LSP believes that by working together, culturally and racially diverse rural and urban people can be the change. We wholeheartedly agree and we are proud to BOOST this message and their mission.
At Birchwood we commit to “hold tightly”, meaning to welcome, nourish and ground everyone in our expanding community by sourcing and serving Good Real Food grown and prepared with love for people and planet, and to “continue to lift the veil”, to keep learning, evolving and pushing for real social change. Food does truly connect us all and we hope you’ll join us to #betheBOOST and #bethechange for greater stewardship of the land, more family farms, more nutritious food for more people and more resilient, racially just communities for us all.
With love and gratitude, Tracy and the Birchwood Cafe crew