When the pandemic hit in 2020, Nina Buxenbaum, tenured Professor of Art at York College, CUNY, and Roberto Zapata, a practicing permaculturalist, realized it was time to start rethinking how we, as a society, are living. The forced separation from friends and family highlighted the disconnect we saw in our community and our nation. Inspired by the work of SoulFire Farm, we reached out to our long standing network of artists, scholars, and dear friends, engaged in social justice, anti-racism, and regenerative agriculture, to start putting into motion something we had previously only talked about in theory: Creating an intentional community around the shared vision of equity, land stewardship, reparations, and healing.
In partnership with the Northeast Farmers of Color (NEFOC) we began the work of formalizing this collective. Zoë Charlton, tenured Professor of Art at The American University, along with Ebonye Jones, Head Coach at Coppin State, Josephine Mazyck, the Executive Director of Fihankra Akoma Ntaoso (FAN), Digs Decandia, grower and educator, and Brianne Hypolite (Site Coordinator) are the founding members of this newly formed collective.
DeCandia, has been working for over ten years on integrating generative agriculture with racial justice, reparations, and Indigenous solidarity. When he came to inherit a significant sum from his grandfather, he committed to using this money towards reparation and land return. We have purchased land in Fletcher, Vermont in order to preserve both the farm and wild lands, as well as the community outreach initiatives, developed and nurtured by the previous owners, Catherine Cadden and Jesse Weins. https://babatree.org/
It is our intention to build upon the foundation laid, to grow healthy nutritious food for a diverse community, to teach our youth to reconnect with the land, and the knowledge of our ancestors, while addressing climate change through the teaching of sustainable practices that lower our carbon footprint.
Our hope is for Kindred CRAFT to serve as an example of what we can accomplish when we put aside our prejudices, fears, and individualism. This is an imperative given the reality of climate change and the resulting increase and frequency of climate disasters. Our existence as humans, and the plant and animal life as we know it, are on the precipice of extinction. We must fundamentally change how we function in this world, and we must do it together. Working in collaboration and cooperation to heal the deep ancestral wounds, and committing to rebuilding trust, honesty, and integrity.