Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mujeres sin Fronteras - Women without Borders

I am so pleased to introduce the Mujeres sin Fronteras ("Women without Borders") to the blogosphere! It's a privilege to know these amazing ladies in the Kinston area who are starting a cooperative organic farm on land owned by a local church. The group is facilitated by Melissa Bailey, with support from Toxic Free NC's Leadership Council.

The Mujeres are migrant farmworkers with a home base in North Carolina. Ironically, even though they work 10-to-12 hour days, 6 days a week growing and harvesting vegetables all through the growing season, they have a hard time affording food for their families during the winter months. This is a common challenge for North Carolina's farmworkers - in fact, a 2004 study from Wake Forest University found that among the 100+ NC farmworkers they interviewed, "food insecurity" was about 4 times more prevalent than for the US population overall.

The Mujeres sin Fronteras initially came together out of a desire to support one another through those lean months of the year. After talking through their needs and hopes, they decided to pursue a cooperative farming model, since after all, farming is what they know best, and food is what they needed most immediately! From their mission statement:
The Mujeres sin Fronteras (Women Without Borders) has the single goal of organizing impoverished women, their families and youth to create sustainable communities.

We work with those who care about us to:
- Educate people about the need for sustainable community environments;
- Increase our ability to affect change where we live, work and learn;
- Advocate for the resources we need locally to achieve the American Dream; and
- Promote farmworkers as farmers and directly assist with the creation of sustainable food systems.
The Mujeres sin Fronteras broke ground on their new cooperative farm in early March. (At left is a photo of volunteers and youth on ground-breaking-day at the Mujeres sin Fronteras farm site - photo courtesy of Melissa Bailey. The photo above is of a new vermicomposting bin donated to the Mujeres, complete with labels and instructions in Spanish! Photo by Billie Karel.)

There are so many benefits to cooperative organic farming for this group of women. The Mujeres will supplement their families' diets with healthy organic foods year-round. They intend to sell their organically grown produce locally, which will diversify their families' incomes. They are very deliberately involving their children and other young farmworkers in the project in order to connect youth to the land and educate them about food, farming, and sustainable business. Ultimately, what they're doing is so powerful to me because they are building a community based on cooperation and sustainability, instead of exploitation. Their organic farm will reduce their families' dependence on conventional agriculture as an occupation, which exposes them all too often to dangerous chemicals, unfair labor practices, and drastic seasonal fluctuations in income.

The Mujeres sin Fronteras are taking greater control of their community's food supply, and of their own livelihoods, and I just can't say enough about how inspiring they are, and how proud Toxic Free NC is to support them!

You can donate directly to the Mujeres sin Fronteras to support their cooperative organic farm
by sending a check to their fiscal sponsor:
Home Missions and Evangelism of OFWB
2600 West Vernon Ave.
Kinston, NC 28504
(Please make out your check to "Home Missions and Evangelism of OFWB," and put "Women without Borders" in the memo line.) The Mujeres are collecting private donations to use for seed, tools, training on organic farming and interpretation of organic farming resources, and transportation. If you're in the Kinston area and would like to help out at the garden, contact Melissa Bailey at 252-286-7064.

Toxic Free NC is working with rural communities all across the state to get sustainable food projects like this one off the ground. Thank you for supporting our shared work!

No comments:

Post a Comment