Minnesota Part of 10-State Rural & Small Town Organizing Strategy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Racial justice is an essential element in developing a food and farming system that supports healthy and prosperous rural communities, said central Minnesota farmer Laura Frerichs today during a national rural progressive strategy summit at the National Press Club in Washington. Frerichs, a member of the board of directors of the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project, was one of dozens of participants in “Promise of a Progressive Populist Movement,” a People’s Action strategy summit involving grassroots leaders, elected officials and candidates from across rural America. Frerichs spoke during a session describing major themes of the summit.
“Within our agricultural system there are a lot of inequities. Not a lot of people of color are landowners—they are more involved as laborers, not as farmers and owners,” said Frerichs, who, along with her husband Adam Cullip and sons Eli and William, raises organic vegetables on Loon Organics Farm near Hutchinson. “For us, this is a core value; we can’t move forward if we leave so many people behind."
Frerichs, along with Land Stewardship Project executive director Mark Schultz, attended the one-day summit to strategize with family farmers, tribal leaders and small-town residents about how to implement race-conscious organizing in rural communities and build powerful multiracial, urban-rural alliances. During the summit, an agenda for change based on over 2,400 conversations with rural residents was presented. It includes, among other priorities, promoting family farms and food and agricultural justice, addressing the opioid crisis, respecting the sovereignty of indigenous nations, providing good jobs, ensuring clean water, and making quality, affordable healthcare available for everyone.
“Land Stewardship Project membership continues to grow as we stand against corporate control over our food and farming system, and stand up for people, rural communities and the land,” said Schultz. “This summit gives us a chance to meet with other rural and small-town people’s organizations and to build an agenda for positive change in rural America.”
The summit was organized by People’s Action, which is made up of 48 organizations from across the country, including the Land Stewardship Project. People’s Action is one of the largest multiracial coalitions in the country, representing organizations from 30 states. The coalition’s mission is to build powerful, state-level community organizations that can develop agendas for racial, economic, climate and gender justice. People’s Action member organizations and its allies are in the midst of launching a “Rural and Small Town Organizing Strategy” in 72 counties across 10 states, including Minnesota.
Founded in 1982, the Land Stewardship Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an ethic of stewardship for farmland, promoting sustainable agriculture and developing healthy communities. It has offices in the Minnesota communities of Lewiston, Montevideo and South Minneapolis.