Supporting and Uplifting Food Sovereignty Initiatives
BSF is committed to supporting already existing food and land sovereignty initiatives. In addition to cultivating our own community and network, we recognize the multi-generational decolonial projects and mutual aid networks that Indigenous and Black communities have been engaged with long before we were here.
First and foremost, BSF recognizes that the land on which we work is the occupied ancestral land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone People. We strive to honor their struggle for sovereignty that continues today by supporting Ohlone and indigenous-led food sovereignty initiatives such as Cafe Ohlone, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, the Indigenous and Native Coalition, and more. Second, BSF is committed to the democratization of agro-food systems by putting ‘those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations’ (Declaration of Nyéléni, 2007) We honor this inherent right by creating thriving agroecological systems where individuals can realize their own sovereignty and sustain alternative visions of land-based lifeways. With our privileged access to this land, we actualize our shared values of food sovereignty by collectively making choices about what crops to plant, how to grow them, and where our food is distributed.
Anti-Oppression and Empowerment of BIPOC Leadership
The work of decolonizing our land, our food, and our community is an ongoing and continuous effort. In partnership with BlPOC farmers and land stewards, we provide workshops centered around the liberation and decolonization of farming practices. We organize our own educational opportunities to better actualize anti-oppression initiatives into our work as land stewards. We center land—and all its opportunity for grief, tradition, and ancestral reconnection—in our community and actively work on integrating this into the ways in which we organize ourselves and tend to our crops. Four out of our eight gardens and farms are dedicated to underrepresented BIPOC student communities. We hope that these efforts will ultimately lead to the rematriation of stolen indigenous ancestral remains and sacred artifacts, the return of stolen Indigenous land, and reparations for Black and Indigenous people.
Offering Intercultural and Place-based Learning Opportunities
BSF operates with the belief that anti-oppression and decolonial efforts are most effective when they begin at the local level. Our organizing and community building seeks to provide UC Berkeley students and the local Berkeley community with the opportunities to develop a relationship to land, influenced and directed by Indigenous knowledge and stewardship.
As a university with a history of agricultural education, there is a surprising lack of opportunities for students to develop a place-based relationship to environmental science, ecological stewardship, agroecology, or food systems. By and large, the University no longer employs a hands-on, experiential, land-based pedagogy, and at BSF, we respond by learning from each other. Students and community members pass on knowledge about farming practices and agroecological principles; and we do so on the land itself as it is being farmed. We believe that a relationship to land must be cultivated in partnership and with deep respect towards Indigenous communities and Indigenous knowledge in order to avoid reverting to deeply entrenched currents of colonial and white-supremacist narratives and relational rubrics. With gratitude, we hope to learn from Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous visions of land, grounding our relationships to place in a knowledge of the colonial history of California, of the East Bay, and of UC Berkeley.
Expanding and Strengthening Cross-campus Collaboration
Our work is interdisciplinary and calls upon the collective efforts of people and departments scattered all across our campus and beyond. For BSF, our values of food sovereignty and justice means providing access to food, land, and experiential learning to the whole community. In this way, our efforts are only as effective as the relationships that we can foster with other campus student organizations and campus administrative, financial, and academic departments. To increase the distribution of food, we also work in partnership with the UC Berkeley Basic Needs Center and Food Pantry, the Gill Tract Farm Coalition, and other local grassroots organizations.
Healing and Wellness
We believe that land stewardship is a powerful therapeutic and healing practice. Tending seeds, soil, and plants are somatic practices that reconnect the body to food, culture, and more-than-human life. For some, access to green space and plant life has been stolen through cycles of violent dispossession, forced labor, or racial segregation. For others, the natural world has been fetishized into a passive backdrop for human leisure, or boxed into conserved parks and forests that are far removed from daily urban life. BSF wants to challenge these settler-colonial paradigms through a radical reconnection with the flourishing of more-than-human life. Gardening and farming is a somatic practice of significant therapeutic benefit, where breath, movement, intention, and practice can literally create nourishment for mind, body, and spirit. Our programs utilize green therapy, meditation, breath work, movement practice, yoga, and other healing modalities that foster this reconnection.