Small Bites: Reflections of a White Farmer

Authored by Coach Polly Shyka

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farm and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm teams.

What is authentic and right to do?

grey rocks stacked

This past year certainly offered ample opportunity for us, as white farm owners, to reckon with the difference between our social justice intentions and the reality of our actions (and inaction) and their impacts. Racism, sexism, nativism, homophobia, colonialism, and elitism were all subjects of conversation around our pack shed all summer. How do we live up to our ideals? Should we move funds toward BIPOC owned businesses? Put a land acknowledgment on our website? What is authentic and right to do? How to beware of virtue signaling? How do we intend to keep up the efforts?

This winter, I have seen and participated in groups of farmers coming together in workshops offered through MOFGA, Soul Fire Farm and others to learn about the history of racism and colonialism in farming. These groups also train farmers in strategizing with other farmers about how to shift toward more equitable actions, agreements and practices. There is a lot for us white folks to learn. MOFGA has put together an incredible Learning Guide that could be used on farms, in farmer groups, and in the broader community to challenge and change some long-held, convenient and oppressive patterns. Food Systems New England is winding down the 7th year of the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, and it’s not too late to tune in and join this opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth.

Looking for a space to reflect and do some inquiry about your farm and equity? The farm coaches can help and refer you to opportunities in Maine and more.