Wish: Fall Share #4 – 11/17/21
We are currently in the midst of our renewal drive, asking members of our summer veggie share to sign up for the upcoming 2022 season.
It’s not going super well compared to past years.
We took a huge risk as a small business and decided to put a very small reparations fee on our share next season.
Why? Because over the last few years, in several different food and racial justice workshops we’ve participated in, reparations is always the solution for which farmers of color advocate.
Generally, the white, privileged, land-owning farmers in the room aren’t a huge fan of this solution. It feels too radical. It feels unjust.
But the reality is, structural racism has played a huge role in Mike and I becoming land owners. Yes, we work our butts off. But we would be lying to ourselves and to the world if we didn’t also take into account the role our white, middle class privilege has played in helping us get to the successful place we are in today.
All season long we debated whether or not to add the fee, knowing that many members would have strong, negative feelings about our family farm making a social justice stand in a monetary way. Many of my farming colleagues think we’re crazy – that it’s way too risky of a move to make.
We decided to take the risk. We made the decision to make the fee visible and transparent in order to create discussion around it.
The fee is small, $6, and across our membership it will raise about $4,000. The farm regularly donates $10-12 thousand dollars per year. We could have not told the membership about our thoughts on the moral imperative of reparations and donated the money to the same cause out of the member registration money anyway. In other words, already contained in the price of your share is money that the farm will turn around and donate. We could collect those funds and give reparations without your knowing. By adding it on as a fee, we wanted to make it transparent and provoke discussion.
It was a very risky thing to do. Our renewal numbers are WAY down compared to last year, after a much better growing season. We fear that many folks are choosing not to renew because of the fee. But after multiple years of learning about race issues in our country and in our Madison community, we believe in making this stand a visible one, despite its risks.
The funds will be given directly to a farm seeking reparations – to Catatumbo Cooperative Farm, a Latinix owned, immigrant-welcoming urban farm in Chicago that is actively seeking reparations.
We do hope our reasoning makes sense. As organic farmers, it is often ingrained in our natures to push things in a healing direction – even if that push is not in the mainstream. We are drawn to this work because we want to heal the land. And in this vein, here at Crossroads, your farmers are also drawn to trying to heal the harms we may be unwittingly benefiting from – even if it means we might lose some customers. We are a business, yes, but making money never was and never will be the most important thing to us. Doing what we can, in our small sphere, to try and create the more just world we want to see is why we do what we do.
I am happy to continue this conversation with any of you who are interested.