Despite dealing with another COVID-19 summer, NFFC was fortunate to host two exceptional interns this year: Andrea Perez-maspons is a recent graduate of North Carolina State University; and Charlotte Emerson is a rising senior at Yale University. Working remotely, both focused on media projects to preserve and highlight some of the incredible images and voices among our membership. Charlotte archived hundreds of NFFC photographs, videos, and documents at a platform called Airtable to improve access for staff and members; Andrea spliced some of that media with cell phone videos and interviews from audio tapes (courtesy of Ali Berlow) into short films featuring NFFC members and voices. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to excellence and for their perspectives from their months with NFFC.
Working with NFFC this past summer was a great opportunity to learn more about multidimensional activism. Through archiving hundreds of photos, I watched NFFC grow as an organization over the years.
They’ve travelled from Washington to Maine, from Alabama to Wisconsin, from Iowa to D.C., stopping along the way to hear farmers’ and fishers’ stories with the goal of enacting real change. They appear to spend almost as much time at farms as they do on Capitol Hill, modeling the theory that true and effective representation comes from listening to those you hope to represent.
Something particularly striking about NFFC’s work is their deep understanding of how interconnected issues of wealth and climate disparity are with agricultural justice. As evidenced through their participation at Occupy Wall Street back in 2011 and multiple climate marches over the years, NFFC clearly understands that the root of so many agricultural issues can be found in wealth inequality that has contributed to climate inequality and land dispossession. Learning about their work through archiving photos has been an unbelievable experience. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to work with them and learn more about their powerful projects.
Over the course of the last five months, I had the opportunity to work as one of the media interns for NFFC. In this role I collaborated with their team to create two digital media projects, or videos.
The first video serves as an introduction to both the work done by NFFC as well as the voices of a few of our leading members. Using interviews recorded at Farm Aid 2019 and archival photographs I produced a collage of images, voices, and statements reflecting NFFC’s membership, goals, and values.
The second video was submitted as part of the counter-mobilization to the UN Food Summit 2021. NFFC, along with hundreds of other organizations throughout the world, raised concerns over the lack of smaller-scale, family farmer voices in the food summit. Through the creation of these videos, I was able to work with NFFC food producers and staff to advocate for a more sustainable and just food system on a federal level.
As a recent environmental science graduate, I am incredibly passionate about creating a more resilient and sustainable food system. The global pandemic and climate disasters proved that our industrialized food system is highly fragile. People need access to healthy, sustainably grown and harvested foods within their own communities. We must empower family farmers and fishers with the right tools and resources in order to meet local needs.
While revamping the food system is a complex and large task, it is a necessary one. Growing food in our changing climate will only become more difficult. Yet, we all need good food. Farmers, workers and all food providers are the backbone of our food system as well as the backbone for many rural economies, and we must support them.
From my time with NFFC, I have seen the robust work of organizations and individuals in this fight. Through policy, activism, and community engagement there is room for everyone to join the movement. It is up to all of us to actively uphold a system in which we participate.