Page 33 - Vallet Table - Spring 2020
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                                   of the Hudson Valley to another became too much to bear. Now, they keep their market right on the farm, using it as a home base for their market and CSA shares. Although their choice to leave the regional market scene was a sacrifice
in some ways, it was also a victory that enabled them to rededicate their efforts to their farm, their family, and, ultimately, their legacy.
Over in Chester, Karen Washington also
faces the question of legacy, albeit of a slightly different sort. As part of a team of minority women farmers, she hopes to create a legacy for those who, like her, don’t fit the stereotypical mold. To do so, she’s cultivating a presence as
a helping hand, not just in the Hudson Valley, but in New York City and across the nation,
as well. She’s seen for herself the sheer lack
of people of color in the farming industry and she knows that, unless conversations occur and educational resources become more readily available, the demographics of farmers will remain largely unchanged. She founded the first Black Farmers and Urban Growers Conference in 2010 and continues to go out of her way to speak with government officials about challenges within the industry. In 2014, she won a James Beard Leadership Award for her drive to spark real change in an industry that’s grown too comfortable with sameness.
“Who are the future farmers going to be?” she asks. “People with power have to give it up or share it.”
While she recognizes forgoing such power is more than a little uncomfortable, since it forces those who possess it to own up to the lack of equality in their field, she cites it as a critical first step to provide more opportunities for minority farmers and underprivileged farm workers who need them most. For at the end of the day, it all comes down to forging a path that guides the present generation, just as it lights the way for those to come.
“We want to make sure there are people who can follow in our footsteps and be proud of who they are,” she says. “At the end of the day, there’s one race of people, and that’s the human race.” v
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