Celebrating Pride Month 2022: Queer Farmer Stories and Resources
Farming is independent, self-determined good hard work.
Over the last few years, we have been centering our work in ensuring that anyone in New York, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or identity, has the knowledge, skills, resources and networks needed to enter and thrive in farming as their vocation. We have highlighted resources and networks that support BIPOC folks entering agriculture. We have created specific programs for military veterans and LatinX farmers, tailored to their needs.
In honor of Pride Month, we turn our attention to our farm community members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+). Unlike for other groups of farmers, we have no demographic information on our farmers who identify as LGBTQ+. Federal surveys such as the U.S. Census, the USDA Census of Agriculture, and American Community Survey don’t include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. According to a 2019 report, up to 5 percent of rural Americans identify as LGBTQ+.
Recently, USDA updated its nondiscrimination regulations to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This important change affects all USDA programs that the agency administers — including farm loans, small business development, and food programs.
Here in New York, Rock Steady Farm, in Millerton, NY, is providing amazing leadership to support our LGBTQ+ farmers build community and learn skills. Below we share some of their upcoming programs as well as other resources from around the country that might be of interest to our LGBTQ+ farmers. If you know of other resources to add to this list, please let us know.
This paid training program from Rock Steady Farm, with Farm School NYC, is for aspiring and beginner queer and trans farmers interested in cooperative farm business models that center equitable food access. Applications are closed for the current season, but you can learn more about the program and help support their work.
This training program from Rock Steady Farm is intended for farmers interested in learning basic tractor safety, maintenance, and operation — no tractor experience or license necessary! Participants will gain basic understanding of how to operate a tractor safely, identify key parts of a tractor, practice general tractor maintenance and get hands-on experience driving a tractor. The fall training date is TBD.
As part of a Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) events series on Labor Management, Rock Steady Farm gave a presentation on their workplace culture, farm policies, care focused approach, and on how to build an inclusive workplace on your farm, especially for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ workers.
The Queer Farmer Convergence was conceived as a gathering to build community among queer farmers and to reflect on and interrupt racist, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal legacies in U.S. agriculture. It also works to build community among queer farmers as an antidote to the isolation that many of us experience in our daily lives. The fourth Queer Farmer Convergence will take place in Decorah, Iowa on September 3-5, 2022.
This network includes current, lapsed, and aspiring farmers, gardeners, growers, herbalists, tenders of land, food revolutionaries, and more spread across U.S. A grassroots collection of volunteers within the QFN host in-person gatherings, communicate via an online listserv, and share information and resources with one another via a Job Board, Directory, Field Notes, and more. Though most of their in-person network building is based in the Midwest, they support the existence of more gatherings, movement building, and queer farmer collaborations in new regions.
First Person is a PBS media series that explores gender identity and sexuality, covering LGBTQ issues through first-person narratives. In a recent episode, Karen Washington, co-founder of Rise & Root Farm and a longtime activist and community gardener, joined DeVonne Jackson Perez — native New Yorker, urban farmer and sustainable stylist — in a conversation about sustainability and urban farming.
This compilation of testimonies by peasant members of European Coordination Via Campesina and beyond details how embracing rural diversity and efforts for inclusion and acceptance of gender and sexual diversities can create new social structures. The publication calls for action to organize, so that queer voices are heard and play a key political role in the transformation of the food system.
There are an unknown number of queer, trans, and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) folks who don’t have a way to enter the farming industry. And when they do, they often face a barrage of limitations. This article published by Civil Eats in 2021 features young, queer, and farmers of color, challenging racism and sexism in farm work.
Food Tank compiled this article during Pride Month 2020 to share more LGBTQ+ organizations building deeper roots in the food system. It includes seven New York-based, and many more collectives, farms, and other organizations that are working to strengthen LGBTQ+ representation in the food system and give back to their communities.
This series of articles highlights voices from LGBTQ+ people and allies in agriculture to feature the diversity and leadership within our industry who work to make our community a better place for everyone.