We have many community-based partners and very engaged youth who have been leading a variety of efforts in the state to change the food system for the better. These are our Local Food Heroes. With your help, we are excited to host them at our Farm to Fork events as a special thank-you for making a difference. Please consider a special gift that will help us honor these 2016 Local Foods Heroes.
The young men at Growing Change are flipping a closed prison in Wagram NC into a sustainable farm and education center. And they are flipping their lives around while they do it. These youth are addressing the root causes of inequities in our food system, and making opportunity out of some of the harshest problems faced in rural North Carolina. They understand disparity and take it head on, creating a model that is now receiving national attention and may prove a pathway to revitalizing innumerable prison sites across NC and the US. They’ve also created a comic book about their experiences, storying their lives and their successes in ways that can really reach other youth facinging similar struggles.
They do this work in an intentionally multi-racial group—working together as African-Americans, Latinos, Native American’s and white youth. They work hard, are dedicated and diligent, they are learning new things and creating new businesses, making sustainable change for the long haul. They see themselves as “part of the solution” and so do we.
We thank all the youth involved in Growing Change and honor a few as representatives of the whole: Terrence Smith for his astounding innovation as well as his determination to flip the script and create a new path, Cody Oxendine for his steadfast vision and unswerving commitment, and for Scottie Dimery for returning again and again to make things work for himself and all. And to Noran Sanford for inspiring them and inspiring us to believe that anything is possible. These are Local Heroes.
The youth group at Conetoe Family Life Center is part of the larger healthy living effort at their church in Conetoe, NC, Edgecombe County. The whole congregation works a small sustainable farm and cooks healthy meals for members, but the youth are not only a vital force in the farm work and anti hunger efforts, but also raise bees and teach bee keeping, as well as market and sell their honey. They lead workshops for other youth and adults on everything from growing food to composting and they gather weekly to support through each other to keep steady in addressing community as well as individual goals. Reverend Joyner and all the many youth at CFLC understand and appreciate growing food as a vehicle for change. The numerous youth at CFLC are each motivated and day in day out make a difference in their community.
We honor them all and name, as representatives of the whole these Local Food Heroes: Marquon Pettaway for his resilience and unending kindness; Tobias Hopkins for his leadership and willingness to sing truth into the world; and for Reverend Richard Joyner for being a pillar of strength for us all and for seeing the deep value in rooting change in the soil of this earth.
The Youth group at Transplanting Traditions is all about possibilities in the face of challenges. These youth honor where they have come from, seek out current leadership opportunities, and make change in their community. The entire youth group at TT has done amazing documentary work with elders around foodways and culture: audio work, photography, and video. They host dinners and lead tours at the farm and they help run the farmers market stands, creating avenues for the broader community to understand their culture. The youth support each other.
We wish to honor Ree Ree Wei, Hla Win Tway, and their youth organizer Nicole Accordino for their endless innovation and energy to make things happen, their leadership within their community and beyond, and the drive and optimism towards making their community strong that sparks us all into renewed energy and action. Thank you for being tirelessly devoted to your community and to food justice, and for being our Local Food Heroes.
Poder Juvenil Campesino, “Rural Youth Power” in English, is a youth group of farmworkers out of Eastern NC. They have worked diligently on everything from national lobbying in DC for the protection and rights of children working in the fields to local educating in their community, holding panel discussions called “Youth Speaks” for educators and policy makers about the issues faced by farmworker communities. They are professionally trained as photographers and have a nationally traveling exhibit that puts both struggles and resilience in print. They have led food drives and started gardens and built chicken coops for their neighbors. Always, they inspire and educate: each other, the other youth groups in CEFS’s FYI, and everyone who meets them.
We want to honor all these youth and here name a few representatives of their work: Jose Godinez for his fortitude and loyalty, Jose Montez for his courage, and Yesenia Cuello for her leadership. Yessy Bustos has joined NC Field as staff and leads and supports these youth and NC Field at large with energy and insight and Pete Eversoll has been a tireless volunteer and board member. We are all lucky to have them in NC and appreciate them endlessly as Local Food Heroes.
Emilee Register is a Wayne County teen who is making a real impact on her community. Emilee was apart of CEFS' SWARM program who developed as a fierce yet humble leader and food justice activist with a passion for agriculture.
She is one of a few African-American FFA members at her school, participated in NC A&TSU's Institute for Furture Ag Leaders, was a Park Scholar semi-finalist and continues to volunteer and lead activities at the Wayne County Public Library's community garden. Emilee is truly a Local Foods She-ro!
Josie Walker is a recent graduate of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (N.C. A&T) in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She grew up in Trenton (Jones County), North Carolina. She has a passion for sustainability in all its forms and strives to increase the sustainability of NC communities. As a former teacher, Josie is dedicated to teaching others about the benefits of local foods and believes that people are more receptive to new ideas if they see the relevance to their own lives.
While at N.C. A&T, she built bridges between students and faculty/staff from multiple departments as well as the local community and Cooperative Extension through Sustainable Agriculture Club events and through her position as a Local Food Ambassador. Josie also worked to connect Eastern NC farmers with new markets through an apprenticeship with Feast Down East.
We thank Josie for her dedication to building and supporting local food economies and food systems in order to honor our state’s agricultural history, keep our dollars within NC, and create food-related businesses within the state.