In early 2021, Land in Our Names (LION) conducted a short piece of London-wide research on behalf of the Rootz into Food Growing project to identify individual Black / people of colour (BPOC) growers to shed light on the experiences of growing food for social enterprise and sustaining livelihoods in and around London. This report is based on interviews with ten food growers past and present.
Rootz into Food Growing, a collaborative project between The Ubele Initiative, Black Rootz, OrganicLea and Land in Our Names, funded by Farming the Future.
About the research:
The aim of this research project has been to identify and capture data and stories of experienced BPoC social enterprise growers pan-London, and understand the following:
1. Identify where they are currently involved in commercial food growing activities
2. Their training, skills and experience
3. Their appetite for teaching/training, mentoring, supporting development and/or providing volunteer work opportunities to food growers from BPoC communities.
This research has allowed LION to identify and surface some of the current structural and other barriers aspiring and experienced BPoC growers experience to enter into food growing for sustaining livelihoods and identify the following recommendations which will be then implemented either during the Rootz into Food Growing project’s lifetime and beyond.
Networks, Spaces, Mentoring : “Collective space” and networks to combat poor treatment of BPoC growers and counter the isolation upon which this thrives.
Training, senior staff support : Anti-oppression & transformative justice models for addressing the root behaviours and systems. behaviours and systems.
Healing : Challenge burnout culture prevalent in food growing spaces, enabling growers to heal from the effects of low pay, working several manual jobs at once, as well as make sense of the gatekeeping, bullying and abuse that affected many of our interviewees, early on in their growing journeys.
"Competence" & More than just food: Food growing projects create spaces where growers’ "competence" and expertise is accepted and warmly welcomed. Horizontal support networks are sorely needed; where different growing journeys, qualifications and experience levels coexist and all participants feel listened to, respected, and have increased decision-making power.
The challenges and needs of BPoC food growers must be addressed in order to inspire, mentor and nourish new entrants. This report showcases the passion and growing wisdom our BPOC growers bring to London’s social enterprise growing scene and the multitude of challenges they face in a system which offers little support for them. The entrance and retention of BPoC food growers demand greater access to financial resources, mentoring and enterprise development.
About Rootz into Food Growing:
The Rootz into Food Growing project aims to more clearly identify, understand, plan and implement a series of interventions which subsequently reduce barriers to entry into the social enterprise growing system and begin to identify appropriate land for commercial food growing purposes. It will promote food justice by identifying and training a new generation of BPoC growers who are empowered to develop their own food growing systems and enterprises; grow local, culturally appropriate and indigenous food (which can be grown in the UK) which is often imported and sold at inflated prices; encourage people of all ages from BPoC communities to create social enterprises, thereby creating livelihoods.
For further information about this project, please contact Pauline Shakespeare, Project Coordinator, Rootz into Food Growing Pauline.firstname.lastname@example.org