Agriculture

Moving Towards Regenerative, Inclusive Agriculture

May 25, 2021

The murder of George Floyd a year ago mobilized the largest civil rights protests in American history, with more than 20 million people participating in thousands of gatherings across every state in the union. Myriad racial justice initiatives and commitments were announced, including more than $50B in corporate pledges to Black communities, most of which have not materialized.

In the early months of the pandemic, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, many organizations, MALT among them, responded to the “unequivocal call for racial equity” and embarked on a journey to address justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in their work. There was a collective feeling that perhaps this time, real change might be possible.

A year later, a century after the Tulsa massacres claimed the lives of nearly 300 Black citizens, there is increased awareness of the breadth and depth of racism in the United States, with inequities in education, health, vocation and other systems profoundly highlighted by the   pandemic. We are learning truths that were not part of the history lessons for many of us born into white privilege. My friend Monique Aiken’s podcast, “The Reconstruction,” is part of this relearning process, essential to becoming anti-racist as individuals and as a society.

Shortly after I joined the MALT team two months ago, MALT staff and board members participated in the Food Solutions New England 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. We continue our relearning journey with monthly Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice conversations on an array of topics relevant to regenerative, inclusive agriculture. 

The Counter recently published a phenomenal piece, “Regenerative agriculture needs a reckoning.” Among many other excellent points, the long-form article recognizes that the regenerative agriculture movement is led largely by white people, overlooking cultural practices of land stewardship that predate colonization of the Americas. In a recent webinar, the Land Trust Alliance highlighted the white centricity of the conservation movement, resonating with this month’s cover story in The Atlantic, “Return the National Parks to the Tribes.”

With more than 54,000 acres of vulnerable farmland permanently protected for agricultural use, MALT is in a unique position to help model regenerative, inclusive agriculture in partnership with our community, broadly defined. By regenerative, inclusive agriculture, we mean carbon-negative production of sufficient and nourishing food while providing dignified livelihoods for everyone in the value chain. Collective action with partners and our community is the only way to reach this imagined future state.

Commitment, accountability and action are required to drive diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. To that end, we have adopted practices from the Racial Equity Playbook. We recently launched an Indigenous Inclusion Initiative to build relationships with our local indigenous communities and understand how we can take part in recentering diverse cultural traditions in sustainably stewarding our one planet Earth.

While the path forward requires reckoning, we are at an inflection point in human history and have an opportunity to build the world in which we all want to live. We appreciate you being on the journey with us.

Thane Kreiner, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer

For questions, contact Tristan Conway, community engagement manager, at tconway[at]malt.org.