Roosevelt Tarlesson has a vision for healing, training, community building and empowerment. Tarlesson and his family, originally from Liberia, are known figures in the African and refugee community of California — since arriving in California in the 1970s, Roosevelt has been uplifting farming as a tool to reconnect California-based African refugees with their cultural roots and provide a means of economic development.
When it comes to cannabis, California is often perceived by many as “chill” and “radical” with the state’s recent legalization policies. But Jordan, a transplant to the state, sheds light on what it’s really like being a cannabis farmer in rural Northern California. Like many farmers, Jordan faces challenges of isolation while farming, but the inconsistencies of state and federal cannabis laws add another layer of difficulty to this work.
Christina Perez is a Latinx woman urban farmer working with in the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) in Inglewood, Los Angeles. In addition to digging, planting and harvesting across seven different community and school garden project sites, Christina also puts together community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes for weekly and biweekly subscribers. The contents of each box are influenced by community member input, in an effort to ensure cultural relevance of the food. Christina uses a survey system to “see what [participants] need and try to match what we have to their needs.”
Rubie Simonsen is the 28 year old Filipino-American farmer behind First Mother Farms. Her property, located in Yuba County, was inherited by Rubie and her sister after their grandmother’s passing. This beloved and fertile legacy, never having been under agricultural production, will now become a small-scale lavender farm, a healing space of spiritual and intellectual richness, and an embodiment of an accumulation of acquired knowledge, resources, experiences and culture.
This week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) officially announced their hiring of the new Farm Equity Advisor (FEA), a position now filled by Thea Rittenhouse. The creation of this position was one of the main pieces included in the Farmer Equity Act of 2017 (AB 1348) — legislation proposed by the farmer and farmer-advocate group, the California Farmer Justice Collaborative (CFJC).