The Food Justice Summit is brought to you by the Adirondack Food System Network Steering Committee
Thursday, March 2nd
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Registration and Networking
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Keynote Presentation: The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement in 2023
The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement (IFSM) is complicated. The overarching goal of the IFSM is for tribes to achieve control over their food systems. The IFSM has exploded in recent years with initiatives such as tribal and grassroots food initiatives, farms, community and backyard gardens, food summits and school programs. Despite these efforts, high rates of diabetes, obesity and other health issues still remain, and food insecurity is a reality for many Natives. The IFSM should involve political, economic, social, religious and environmental activism. This talk provides an overview of what strategies have worked, but more importantly, what has not been successful and what we should do now.
Devon Mihesuah is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is the Cora Lee Beers Price Professor in the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas. A historian by training, she is the author of numerous award-winning non-fiction and fiction books, including Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens: Indigenous Recipes and Guide to Diet and Fitness that was awarded Best in the World Indigenous Book by Gourmand International Food and Wine, Ned Christie; Choctaw Crime and Punishment: 1884-1907; American Indigenous Women: Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism, as well as many novels. She is former Editor of the American Indian Quarterly and the University Nebraska Press book series, “Contemporary Indigenous Issues.” She oversees the American Indian Health and Diet Project at KU and the Facebook page, Indigenous Eating.
10:10 AM – 10:55 AM
How to Develop Impactful Farm to School Field Trip Programs
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Creating impactful farm to school programs is just one way to address the many aspects of food insecurity that many communities are affected by. In this session you will learn how to address food security through a farm to school model that is empowering and fun for the whole community.
Chef Liesha McKinley-Barnett
Liesha Barnett is a chef, teacher and the Education Program Coordinator for Edible Schoolyard Project. Her primary work is centered on cultivating relationships between schools and community partners to deliver a comprehensive experience for children and families in underserved communities.
Social Seniors on Snowshoes: Supporting Community Health Through Collaboration
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Despite readily available information, education, and resources, why do some rural seniors continue to experience patterns of unhealthy behaviors? One researcher decided to explore this problem of non-compliance by rural residents in one county to implement recommendations made by local public health educators. Her findings were that interpersonal relationships – the very definition of community – was important to this rural community. This interactive presentation will briefly discuss the research, and the nutrition and physical activity workshops and events that were part of the initiative, so that the success experienced by this senior population can be duplicated. If this rural group of seniors can remain healthy because they are connected with others in their community, and can thrive emotionally and mentally, other seniors in other regions can, too.
MB (Marybeth) Mitcham
Dr. MB (Marybeth) Mitcham is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Online MPH Program at George Mason University, the first School of Public Health in Virginia. Mitcham’s research interests include the effect of intergenerational learning opportunities on healthy behavior patterns, rural gender identity, the intersection of plant-rich diets and rural populations, and effective public health education methods. Her work focuses on translating research into practice by promoting kinesthetic learning opportunities designed to reduce the barriers to achieving good health. A resident of the Adirondack Park, Mitcham continues to work with local community organizations to help reduce health inequity, and spends as much of her free time scampering up and over mountains as she possibly can (sometimes dragged by her puppy, Belladonna).
Creating an Equitable Experience for Low-Income Families on the Farm
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This summer, two farms partnered with the Essex County WIC program to lead a pilot program that offered weekly educational, hands-on, and you-pick experiences to participating families. Learn how Creative Kitchen Garden, Craigardan, and the Essex County Public Health team worked together to go above and beyond to offer a safe, fun, educational experience that purposefully made space for the needs of low-income families with young children living in the Adirondacks. This presentation will give farmers, community organizers, and county agencies an understanding of how the program was led so they can explore starting a similar program in their community.
Mary Godnick is a farmer and owner of Creative Kitchen Garden, a diversified “kitchen garden” at DaCy Meadow Farm where people can reconnect with nature and food. Mary hosts weekly Community You-Pick Nights and leads private garden tours and workshops. In 2022, Mary worked with Essex County WIC and Craigardan to host a series of summer “WIC N’ PICK” events, where families participating in the WIC program visited the garden and picked veggies, flowers and herbs at no cost to them. Mary’s work is inspired by her love of plants, community, and being a good steward of the land.
Emma is the farmer at Craigardan, a nonprofit arts organization and educational working farm. Her love of growing food and outdoor adventure brought her to the Adirondacks from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where she grew up. At work she cares for the livestock and gardens, as well as implementing community programming on the farm. Outside of work Emma loves to explore the woods, read a good book by her woodstove, and ski and snowshoe.
A graduate of Russell Sage with a B.S. in Nutrition, Krista started working for WIC in 2000. As a student and a single mom, Krista and her son Zach were WIC participants. Her passion is teaching families the value of local food. Recently, she lobbied in Washington to promote women’s rights to breastfeed. Krista is a member of Zonta Club of the Adirondacks, sits on the board of the Olympic Museum in Lake Placid, and recently served on the board of the Lake Placid Historical Society.
11:05 AM – 11:50 AM
Panel – Food as Medicine: Patient Care
Moderator: Josh Stephani, Comfort Food Community
Amy Wahl is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist who manages the diabetes & nutrition services for Hudson Headwaters Primary Care Network. She has a strong background in the health and wellness field as a yoga instructor and licensed massage therapist. she has experience working in a variety of healthcare and public settings, including hospitals, long-term care centers, and the retail nutrition setting. Amy enjoys helping patients and staff make healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices to improve their health and wellbeing.
Martha Pickard Palmer
Martha works as a Nutritionist at Potsdam Primary Care part of St. Lawrence Health System. She started her professional career working with grass-based farmers for the partnership between Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and the Adirondack North Country Association. She is very passionate about the connection between healthy farms and healthy people. She lives on her family farm with her husband, two children, pigs, chickens, a dog and too many cats.
Denise is a registered nurse and certified diabetes care and education specialist. She provides patient education and patient contact for the Wellness Rx Program, as well as being the diabetes educator at the Elizabethtown Community Hospital.
Amanda has been with Elizabethtown Community Hospital for 15 years. Her focus on Community Benefits and Socioeconomic impact to healthcare helped shape Wellness Rx as part of the Well Fed Essex County Coalition.
12:00 PM – 12:45 PM
Harnessing the Power of Procurement to Build a More Resilient Food System
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This session will feature a discussion on the challenges and opportunities presented by institutional good food sourcing policies, illustrated by the advancement of the Good Food Purchasing Program across New York. Speakers will provide an overview of the Good Food Purchasing Program and the value categories it supports, followed by a discussion of the logistics of what sourcing more local, higher-welfare, environmentally-friendly, just food from the community actually looks like. This session will focus on the importance of education, communication and assistance for farmers, distributors and eaters, as well as the role legislation can play in supporting a more resilient regional food system.
As the NYS Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign Manager, Taylor is responsible for building support around good food policy and coalition building throughout New York. Her career has spanned various facets of the food system, including through policy advocacy work with Teens for Food Justice, to supply chain management for restaurant groups and wholesale companies such as Dig Inn and Farm to People. Taylor received a Master of Science degree in Food Security and Development from the University of Reading in the UK and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Politics from Hendrix College.
In her role as the Director of the NY Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) Campaign, Ribka Getachew leads, mobilizes and supports both the NYC and NYS NY GFPP Campaigns in activities related to advancing values based food procurement in New York City and across the State. Ribka’s career has been guided by her strong quest for racial equity and justice. Previously, Ribka utilized food-systems knowledge to protect threatened green-spaces and to support the envisioning and building up of local food infrastructures in New York City. She also worked at the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions managing the Human Justice Community Council, where she worked to harness community power as a way of informing and sparking policy transformation.
Kara Shannon is the Director of Farm Animal Welfare Policy at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) where she works to fight factory farming and reduce farm animal suffering through state and federal policy, consumer education about how to find more humane food, and financial and technical support for higher welfare farmers. She holds a J.D. and Certificate in Food and Agriculture Law from Vermont Law School and is passionate about creating a better food system that values animals, farmers, workers and communities.
Using Descriptive Analysis to Better Understand Local Food Systems
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For local food stakeholders and advocates descriptive analysis is a gateway to better understanding a local food system. That information can be used to make a food a system more vibrant which is important to the health of a community and the well being of its residents. St. Lawrence County’s food system is used as a case study. The presentation covers steps taken thus far, and preliminary findings. Too often the local food community struggles getting the big picture and is uncertain where to begin. The method used has been developed by biologist and farmer Jason Bradford and is outlined in Chapter 5 of his report, The Future is Rural. It also includes the Diet and Land Model, a computer program developed by Mr. Bradford that helps local food researchers determine if their local food system can feed itself. Other steps include defining and describing the local food system, and researching the agricultural history. One intriguing secondary question to emerge concerns the role of the home garden in local food production.
The work in St. Lawrence County also incorporates elements of systems thinking found in the work of Donella Meadows. Of particular interest is the concept of leverage points. These are places in the system where an investment of time, energy, effort, and resources could influence the direction and progress of the local food system. Another important concept is the goal or purpose of the system. The presentation concludes with a list of next steps.
Doug is former Sustainability Coordinator at SUNY Canton and has been a local food advocate for the past fifteen years. He has been a Master Preserver for five years and recently completed Master Gardener training. In 2019 he received the Ag and Food System Award from St. Lawrence County CCE for working to “cultivate resiliency in the North Country food system”.
Mending a Local Food Network: Central Adirondack Food Justice Initiatives in Collaboration
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Two central Adirondack non-profit initiatives, the 2022 Central Adirondack Food Survey and Hamilton Helps, present and dialogue their approaches to food justice in the North Country. In a region marked by inadequate food infrastructure and low agricultural production, these two initiatives showcase their efforts to understand the obstacles between Adirondackers and food access while contributing to community-generated solutions: one by administering a survey along the Route 28 corridor to gather data around food access and preference, the other by offering direct food aid and increasing partnerships in the existing food security network in Hamilton County.
In his role as Community Development Specialist for LivingADK, Daniel is focused on various community efforts that revolve around housing options, climate adaptation, broadband access, and small-business economies. Daniel also supports local not-for-profit through program management, planning and grant writing. Recently, LivingADK has increasingly recognized its role as a support structure for food security efforts in Western Central Adirondack communities. Daniel is also an active board member for both the Inlet Area Community Task Force and Adk Action.
Garet Livermore is Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Herkimer County (CCE). CCE’s work in the Adirondack includes helping to build access to the abundance of local, fresh foods produced in upstate New York, identifying and tracking invasive species in our forests and promoting the preservation of native Brook Trout and other native fish of the Adirondacks. Garet has a background in non-profit administration and historic site management and lives in Cooperstown, New York.
Ben Strader is the Executive Director of Blue Mountain Center, a social justice oriented artist residency and conference program founded in 1982. Ben was the founding board chair of the Indian Lake Theater, a new life for a defunct movie house in central Hamilton County. He helped with the creation of the Adirondack Nonprofit Network, a group dedicated to supporting Adirondack communities and the non-profit organizations that serve them. In 2020 Ben started the Hamilton Helps Project to address the food security needs of his neighbors in the Central Adirondacks.
Ryan Felder (they/them) is a program manager for Blue Mountain Center. Responsible for everyday operations at Blue Mountain Center, Ryan also oversees the Hamilton Helps project. Currently, Ryan is a graduate student at Yale Divinity School where they study Anglicanism and eco-liberation theology. Prior to BMC, Ryan worked in popular political education and worker-cooperative development and organizing.
12:45 PM – 1:30 PM
1:30 PM – 2:15 PM
Keynote Presentation: Benita Law Diao
BLUE LINE POVERTY AND INSECURITY: IT’S REAL, THOUGH NOT VISIBLE
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As one drives through the scenic mountain vistas within the “blue line” that represent New York’s treasured gem, the Adirondack State Park, and recreate in its quaint mountain villages and towns, it rarely occurs to seasonal residents and visitors that there is serious poverty and food insecurity within these communities that can impact the park’s existence. Throughout the years working in the Adirondacks, Benita Law-Diao, a NYS Department of Health Public Health Nutritionist, learned that many people in and outside the “blue line” were oblivious to the hardships of some of the park’s residents or they did not believe that poverty existed in the Adirondacks at all. Does the Adirondack’s beauty camouflage the reality of these residents who love and protect the park? This is not a new dilemma, it is real and now is the time to identify the issues, educate the disbelievers, and work to create a sustainable way of living for all who live within the “blue line”.
Benita Law Diao
As a licensed Public Health Nutritionist, Contract Manager and Program Research Specialist for the NYS Department of Health’s Division of Nutrition, Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program and Office of Health Insurance Programs, Benita Law-Diao has worked with a variety of non-profit organizations, county health departments and emergency feeding programs in the North Country to address food security issues and access to health care and affordable prescription coverage for children, families and seniors for 32 years. Her work at the Dept. included food security issues, chronic disease, program development, community outreach, research, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, measles, food safety and sanitation, nutrition and exercise, the Affordable Care Act, affordable elderly pharmaceutical access, etc. While at the Health Department, Benita was a part-time Food Recall Auditor and Food and Nutrition Services Contractor Store Reviewer for the US Department of Agriculture and a Commissioned Officer for the Center for Tobacco Products, US Food and Drug Administration. Since retiring, she serves on the Boards of the Adirondack Park Agency, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County, the Adirondack Experience Museum, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and John Brown Lives! She advises Eagle Island Camp and HydroQuebec’s Champlain Hudson Power Express, which will provide clean energy to NYC, is a Leader for Outdoor Afro for Albany and Upstate NY and is a Master Gardener for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County. She has worked on Underground Railroad projects in the Capital Region and North Country over the years.
2:25 PM- 3:10 PM
Compost to Farm – Technical Assistance to Increase Farm and Community Resilience Through Healthy Soils
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The Compost for Good team will present a summary of their work supporting farmers interested in improving soil health, reducing need for expensive chemical inputs, offering a community service and/or offering an option for increase on-farm income. A focus will be on soil microscopy and accompanying action items.
Katie has many years of experience in farming and education in the Adirondacks. She holds a Master’s of Education with a concentration in Educating for Sustainability. Her work with Compost for Good has bolstered her belief in the connection between healthy soils, resilient food systems, and vibrant communities.
Jennifer Perry wears multiple hats as a cofounder of Compost for Good, focused on project management and grant writing, and is a NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Coordinator with the Adirondack North Country Association. She has been growing and selling vegetables in the Tri Lakes for nearly two decades.
John Culpepper co-founded Compost for Good to help communities around the world upcycle all appropriate organic materials to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions; keep resources in local communities; create business opportunities; help solve water quality issues; and lower the cost of food and fiber production.
Rights of Soil and Rivers
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By giving legally enforceable rights to Soil, Rivers and the Ecosystems they sustain, we recognize that these natural communities have the right to exist, regenerate, flourish, evolve, adapt, and thrive. In an interactive presentation, we will explore how to expand the concept of rights to the non-human world and how to legally advocate for the natural communities that keep life flourishing. These communities aren’t mere property. They have rights just as human beings have rights. By expanding the concept of Rights to soil, we’re advocating for the exological justice of the entire food system.
Blake Lavia and Tzintzun Aguilar Izzo
Talking Wings—primarily composed of North Country-based couple Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo and Blake Lavia- collaborates with environmental storytellers from around the world to create sustainable and ecocentric community-based solutions. They are currently weaving communities across the St. Lawrence River / Kaniatarowanénhne Watershed to create a “Rivers Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.”
Rebuilding Our Food System
Supporting Earth’s ecosystems is essential to building a livable future. Our ecosystems provide the air we breathe, the water we drink and the nourishment we need. From seed to plate, every step in our food system is filled with opportunities for climate solutions. More than just reducing emissions, these solutions steer us toward an equitable food system for both people and the planet. Join us for an interactive and dialogue based session as we explore topics of climate change, justice, and equity in our food system through The Wild Center’s Climate Solutions exhibit experience.
As Director of Climate Initiatives, Jen Kretser leads The Wild Center’s climate change engagement programs including the global Youth Climate Program, which was highlighted by the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology. In 2021, she led The Wild Center’s Youth Climate delegation at the UN COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. Jen serves on Climate Literacy Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN), serves on the U.S. Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Coordinating Team, is a board member of the Adirondack Mountain Club and core team of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.
Kerri guides and supports all museum interpretive programs, educational staff and education initiatives at The Wild Center. Kerri graduated with an MS in Environmental Education from Antioch New England Graduate School and continues to enjoy exploring the intersections of art and nature, curiosity and wonder effective teaching strategies. She enjoys leading the museum’s Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) applications to science content and has employed these innovative strategies through exhibit design, program implementation and teacher training.
3:20 PM – 4:05 PM
Panel – Food As Medicine: Food Access
Sawyer Cresap is the Executive Director of AdkAction and has catalyzed food security, environmental protection, and community revitalization projects throughout the Adirondack region. Prior to her work with AdkAction, Sawyer was a program manager with Hamilton County-focused community development program and a coordinator with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. She received her Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Yale University, and her Bachelor’s degree in Policy from Syracuse University. Sawyer serves as Co-Chair of the Adirondack Food System Network.
Hannah is the Farm to School Coordinator at Rural Health Network of South Central NY, in Binghamton, NY. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability from Paul Smith’s College in 2020. Hannah facilitates Farm to School programs in 27 school districts across 5 counties, within two Board of Cooperative Educational Services; Broome-Tioga BOCES and Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES. She oversees local food procurement, recipe development, and program promotion.
Kate Miller-Corcoran is the Food as Medicine Coordinator for Rural Health Network of South Central NY where she works with community partners, program participants and the team at RHN to get produce from local farms into the hands of community members to create a healthy, vibrant future for everyone in South Central NY. Her passion for affordable access to locally grown produce blossomed as she worked alongside VINES volunteers for seven growing seasons as the Farm Share Manager and later as the Director of Development & Communications. It was during that time that she developed a better understanding for community food systems, sustainable agriculture and how barriers to access fresh food affect health outcomes. Kate holds a B.A. in English from Penn State University and an M.A. in English from SUNY Cortland.
Kevin Davidson is a Farm to School Public Health AmeriCorps Member at the Rural Health Network of South Central NY. He assists in administering two farm to school programs in 27 school districts across 5 counties, including facilitating taste tests and NY Thursday celebrations, school garden education, and developing grant proposals. He graduated in May 2022 with a B.S. in Mathematics and Psychology from SUNY Oneonta, where his work centered on public health from the perspective of human behavioral ecology.
Cassondra Caswell has a master’s degree in Organizational Performance and Leadership, and has worked at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of St. Lawrence County (SLC) as a community educator and program leader in areas of youth & family development, and community health and nutrition. As the Health and Nutrition Team Leader Cassondra acts as the Program Manager for the North Country SNAP-Ed program serving St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Jefferson, and Essex counties. In this role she is responsible for managing the implementations of various nutrition activities serving the low-income and vulnerable populations through direct education, and community initiatives such as the North Country Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program and Farm to Community Food Distribution programs across the North County.
4:15 PM – 5:00 PM
Closing Session: Long Table: Food Justice and Pleasure
The Long Table project combines theatricality and models for public engagement. Based on the model developed by Lois Weaver and Split Britches, this is at once a stylized appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements – theatrical craft and political commitment – are mutually supported. The (often-feminized) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought and conversation around food, justice, pleasure, and their intersections. Everyone in the room has the power (and imperative, with the communal interest for a more satisfying discussion) to shift the direction of conversation, to mediate moments of tension and to make space for voices less easily heard. Performers will participate in the long table, and perform post-discussion reflections.
Rivka Eckert is a mother/artist, scholar activist, and abolitionist theatre-maker. Recipient of the Arizona Humanities Rising Star Award, Eckert’s writings have been published by Howlround, TYA/USA, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal, and in numerous edited volumes. Her current book project, Into Abolitionist Theatre, is under contract with Routledge.