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Posts Tagged: Asian

Asian Pacific American Heritage presentations posted online

Illustration by Surendra Dara

UC ANR celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May with virtual discussions of Asian Americans in agriculture. To view recordings of the webinars, visit the Learning and Development diversity website.

On May 25, Kristyn Leach, a Korean American farmer in Yolo County, shared her personal story of activism for food and environmental justice, as well as her passion for nurturing connections between Asian American communities and the unique crops and foodways that are deeply rooted in their heritage.

Leach also discussed Second Generation Seeds, a collective of Asian American growers dedicated to offering heirloom seeds and resources that help communities of the Asian diaspora reclaim and revitalize their diverse food cultures. 

On May 31, UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisors Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Margaret Lloyd, Aparna Gazula and Hung Doan discussed how they help Asian American small farmers overcome language barriers.

The small farms team serving Asian American farmers includes:

  • Margaret Lloyd, Pang Kue and Fam Fin Lee, Capitol Corridor
  • Vong Moua, Stanislaus County
  • Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Michael Yang and Lilian Thaoxaochay, Fresno County
  • Aparna Gazula, Xuewen Feng and Qi Zhou, Santa Clara County
  • Hung Doan, Riverside County

They serve Hmong, Mien, Chinese and Korean American farmers in California. When the pandemic struck, the small farms team helped Asian American farmers quickly comply with COVID-19 policies and adapt to new market conditions.

They are currently assisting Asian American farmers to adapt to climate change, access grants and other resources, and identify more ways to remain competitive and sustainable. The researchers also educate policymakers about issues affecting Asian American farmers to shape policy that is more practical.

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2022 at 4:04 PM

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month presentations online

Lanterns by Surendra Dara

During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, UC ANR colleagues gathered via Zoom for virtual events to learn, share, support and celebrate. The presentations were recorded and will be posted under DEI on the Learning and Development recording archive page https://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/Monthly_WebANRs/Webinar_Archive under "Asian Pacific Islander Month."

"Stories in Seeds: Asian American Identity as rooted in heirloom crops"

Kristyn Leach, Namu Farms and Second Generation Seeds 
May 25, 2022

Kristyn Leach, a Korean American farmer in Yolo County, will share her personal story of activism for food and environmental justice, as well as her passion for nurturing connections between Asian American communities and the unique crops and foodways that are deeply rooted in their heritage. In addition to growing Korean and East Asian produce using traditional methods, Kristyn is active with Second Generation Seeds, a collective of Asian American growers dedicated to offering heirloom seeds and resources that help communities of the Asian diaspora reclaim and revitalize their diverse food cultures. Recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/WKbyeiVPJL0

UCCE helps Asian American small farmers overcome language barriers

UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisors Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Margaret Lloyd, Aparna Gazula and Hung Doan
May 31, 2022

Meet the UCCE team that serves Hmong, Mien, Chinese, Korean and other Asian American farmers in California. Farming is a complex business made even harder when English is not your native language. When the pandemic struck, UC Cooperative Extension helped Asian American farmers quickly comply with COVID-19 policies and adapt to new market conditions. The small farms team members are currently assisting Asian American farmers to adapt to climate change, access grants and other resources, and identify more ways to remain competitive and sustainable. The researchers also educate policymakers about issues affecting Asian American farmers to shape policy that is more practical.  

Small farms team serving Asian American farmers:

  • Margaret Lloyd, Pang Kue and Fam Fin Lee, Capitol Corridor
  • Vong Moua, Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties
  • Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Michael Yang and Lilian Thaoxaochay, Fresno County
  • Aparna Gazula, Xuewen Feng and Qi Zhou, Santa Clara County
  • Hung Doan, Riverside County 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 9:43 AM

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: 'Stories in Seeds' presentation May 25

In commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, you are invited to attend a special virtual presentation, "Stories in Seeds: Asian American Identity as Rooted in Heirloom Crops," by Kristyn Leach of Namu Farms and Second Generation Seeds.

The link to the online talk on May 25, 2022 (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.) can be found below.

Kristyn, a Korean American farmer in Yolo County, will share her personal story of activism for food and environmental justice, as well as her passion for nurturing connections between Asian American communities and the unique crops and foodways that are deeply rooted in their heritage.

In addition to growing Korean and East Asian produce using traditional methods, Kristyn is active with Second Generation Seeds, a collective of Asian American growers dedicated to offering heirloom seeds and resources that help communities of the Asian diaspora reclaim and revitalize their diverse food cultures.

Zoom Meeting: https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/91740502032?pwd=dENZY1pkMXFpOVd4RmZ5a3I5djJCUT09   

Meeting ID: 917 4050 2032 | Passcode: 007206 | +1 (669) - 900 - 6833

Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 2:54 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Food

Farmers of color share their contributions, concerns in UC SAREP webinar series

USDA’s most recent agricultural census, dating to 2017, counts approximately 25,000 producers of color among 128,535 total producers in California. Photo by Evett Kilmartin

When agricultural advisors came to the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico during the 1940s, they lined the irrigation ditches with concrete, in the name of boosting efficiency and productivity. But in single-mindedly focusing on water delivery, they neglected to consider how the previously inefficient seepage sustained nearby fruit trees. 

Their actions, as well-intentioned as they might have been, disrupted the local ecosystem and killed the trees that had fed many generations, according to A-dae Romero-Briones, who identifies as Cochiti and as a member of the Kiowa Tribe.

“In my language, we call the extension agents ‘the people who kill the fruit trees,'” said Romero-Briones, director of the Food and Agriculture Program for the First Nations Development Institute, a nonprofit that serves Tribal communities across the mainland, Alaska and Hawaii.

The historically tense relationship between Indigenous peoples and government-affiliated programs is one of the many complex dynamics discussed in a six-part webinar series, “Racial Equity in Extension,” facilitated by UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

During the "Retracing the Roots of Sustainable Agriculture" webinar, A-dae Romero-Briones explains the historical tensions between extension agents and Indigenous peoples.
“As extension professionals, we really need to know about the people we want to work with – what are their worldviews and what's the knowledge base that shapes their decisions,” said Sonja Brodt, associate director of UC SAREP, a program of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. “And this is especially important to pay attention to when those people are from cultures or segments of society that have a history of being marginalized or oppressed by mainstream society, and because their significant knowledge has often been made invisible.”

Making communities of color in the agricultural sector more visible is a priority for Victor Hernandez, a sociologist and outreach coordinator for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hernandez, who has organized “Growing Together” conferences for Latino and Black farmers, is trying to get more farmers of color to participate in the upcoming 2022 Agricultural Census.

“If we cannot quantify the demographic, we cannot justify the need,” emphasized Hernandez, explaining that his office uses the data to direct resources that advance equity in service, program delivery and distribution of funds.

A legacy of mistrust

At the same time, however, Hernandez also acknowledged the challenges in registering growers of color for the census, conducted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. (According to Brodt, USDA's most recent agricultural census, dating to 2017, counts approximately 25,000 producers of color among 128,535 total producers in California.)

“Many of us that are considered socially disadvantaged or historically underserved…a lot of times our peoples come from [nations with] oppressive governments,” Hernandez said. “And so when you come to the United States and you begin to build your life here, to go and engage with the federal government is not the first knee-jerk reaction.”

On top of government mistrust and fears of deportation or detention, other immigrant groups have seen mainstream agriculture – borne by the “Green Revolution” wave across the globe – replace deep-rooted cultural practices, said Kristyn Leach of Namu Farm in Winters.

“It just makes these small farmers distrust our own knowledge, the knowledge that's existed for centuries – before the kind of current iteration of agriculture that we're situated within right now,” said Leach, who works to preserve the agricultural heritage of her Korean ancestors, and facilitates a farmers' collaborative called Second Generation that adapts Asian crop varieties to climate change.

According to Romero-Briones, a collective memory of supplanted culture also lingers in Indigenous communities. In the Cochiti Pueblo, “primarily a subsistence agriculture community” with a long history of corn cultivation, their practices are distinct from those in the mainstream – including regenerative and sustainable agriculture.

Clockwise from top-left: Chanowk Yisrael, Kristyn Leach and Victor Hernandez share their perspectives during the "Serving Farmers of Color" webinar, moderated by UC ANR's Stephanie Parreira.
“These practices are not really rooted in Indigenous agriculture,” she explained. “They're actually meant to displace Indigenous agriculture and food systems.”

Building relationships takes commitment

Given that legacy of cultural displacement and appropriation, how do extension professionals and other agricultural advisors slowly rebuild trust with communities of color? For Romero-Briones, it begins with a genuine respect for Indigenous practices, and she urges interested people to contact their local tribal historic preservation officer to begin strengthening those connections and understanding – beyond a couple of phone calls.

“As someone who works with Indigenous people all day, even I need to recognize sometimes I have to meet with people up to 12 times before we actually start talking about the work that I initially wanted to talk to them about,” Romero-Briones said.

In a similar vein, Chanowk Yisrael, chief seed starter of Yisrael Family Farms, encouraged listeners to reach out to members of the California Farmer Justice Collaborative – an organization striving for a fair food system while challenging racism and centering farmers of color.

“To use a farm analogy: we've got this ground, which is the farmers of color who have been neglected for a long period of time,” said Yisrael, who has grown his farm in a historically Black neighborhood of Sacramento into a catalyst for social change. “It's not just going to be as simple as just throwing some seeds and things are going to come up; you're going to have to do more – that means you got to get out and do much more than you would do for any other community.”

Investing time in a community is one thing – and backing it up with tangible resources is another. Technical expertise is only the “tip of the iceberg,” Leach said, as historically marginalized groups are also seeking land access and tenure, more affordable cost of living, and access to capital.

“All of those things are actually much bigger burdens to bear for most communities of color than not having the knowledge of how to grow the crops that we want to grow, and not knowing how to be adaptive and nimble in the face of climate change," Leach explained, highlighting California FarmLink as an essential resource. (“Understanding Disparities in Farmland Ownership” is the next webinar in the SAREP series, set for Nov. 19.)

Bringing diverse voices to the table

Another key is ensuring that farmers and farm workers of color are represented in management and decision-making processes. Samuel Sandoval, a professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and UC Cooperative Extension specialist in water management, develops outreach programs in English and Spanish for everyone from farm workers to the “boss of the boss of the boss.”

Samuel Sandoval, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and UC Cooperative Extension specialist in water management, develops outreach programs in English and Spanish.
Sandoval said there are often gaps of communication between the decision makers and the people, most often Spanish speakers, who implement those measures. He remembers, for example, talking with water resource managers about their plans for a water treatment plant or new irrigation system – and then discovering that the irrigators and farm workers had no idea those discussions are happening.

“It has to be changed,” he said, “because at the end, the person who is going to operate the irrigation system and turn on or off the valves, the person who is looking if there's a leak or not – that's the person who's not being informed, or has not been informed on purpose.”

That exclusion of certain groups can lead to a loss of invaluable knowledge. Leach said there is a real danger in ignoring the wisdom of communities that have contributed so much to the foundation of food systems in California and around the globe.

“These really kind of amazing, sophisticated and elegant agroecological systems that we don't often legitimize through the scientific language and perspectives aren't seen as being really technically proficient – but, in many ways, they're more dynamic and more resilient than the things that we're perpetuating right now,” she said.

As a concrete example, Sandoval said that while extension advisors and specialists conduct studies to remedy a plant disease, farm workers might be developing – separately and in parallel – their own solutions by asking for advice from their social networks via WhatsApp, a phone application.

A reimagining of collaboration, Sandoval said, would include (and compensate) people working in the field for sharing their perspectives – bringing together academics and farmers, integrated pest management experts and pesticide applicators, irrigation specialists and those who do the irrigation.

A need to look within

Concerns about inclusion and validating alternate sources of knowledge apply also to the recruitment process in extension. Leach said that she has seen listings for advisor jobs that would require, at a minimum, a master's degree – which would automatically disqualify her, despite her extensive knowledge of Asian heirloom vegetables.

“When you look at a job description and you see ‘Asian crop specialist,' only required qualification is a master's degree, and then somewhere down the long list of sort of secondary desired, recommended things is some knowledge of Asian crops or communities…you know that just says a lot in terms of what  has weight,” Leach explained.

Before organizations can authentically connect with communities of color, they should prioritize diversity in their own ranks, said Romero-Briones. First Nations Development Institute had to ensure that they had adequate representation across the many Tribes that they serve.

“Before we start looking out, we have to start looking in,” she explained, “and that means we have to hire Indigenous people who know these communities.”

For extension professionals and other members of the agricultural community in California, the UC SAREP webinar series has helped spark that introspection and a meaningful reevaluation of institutional processes and assumptions.

“These discussions have been tremendously illuminating and eye-opening,” Brodt said. “But hearing and learning is just the start – it's incumbent on us, as an organization and as individuals, to take action to ensure that farmers of color and their foodways are truly respected and valued.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 4:20 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Food

Krkich named Executive Director of Development Services

Lorna Krkich
Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that we will be joined by a new colleague, Lorna Krkich, who has accepted the position of UC ANR Executive Director of Development Services. She will begin the position on Dec. 29.

Lorna brings a wealth of experience in income development, relationship building and strategic planning for future growth and sustainability. She has deep roots in California and is an alumna of UC Santa Cruz.

Working with The Salvation Army, Lorna developed funding opportunities, and trained and managed major gift officers across four states. Her program, in which she achieved well over annual goals and initiated a lapsed-donor process, resulted in 60 percent growth across the territory. During her time with the American Lung Association, she worked with staff and volunteers to build community presence and implement new fundraising initiatives in mid-level and major giving, increasing corporate donations by 900 percent in three years.

We are very excited to have Lorna working with us to grow our UC ANR programs, rebuild our academic footprint and improve our research infrastructure. Please join me in congratulating and supporting Lorna in her new appointment.

Glenda Humiston
Vice President

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 4:53 PM

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