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Stanford Food Institute Partners with Farms to Grow, Inc. to Support Black Farmers

Photo above: The Black Farmers’ Plight moderator, panelists, and organizers: (from left to right) Eric Montell, assistant vice provost, R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries; Charlie Hoffs, SFI graduate fellow; Belinda Ramirez, teaching fellow for Civic, Liberal, and Global Education (COLLEGE) Program; Diane Mavica, associate director, R&DE vendor management & contracts; Elaine Smith, executive director, Farms to Grow, Inc.; Dr. Shirley Everett, senior associate vice Ppovost, R&DE; Will Scott, owner, Scott Family Farms; Donald Sherman, owner, Sherman Produce; and Sophie Egan, director, R&DE Stanford Food Institute and Sustainable Food Systems.

The R&DE Stanford Food Institute (SFI) has a robust initiative to support Black businesses as part of R&DE’s overarching commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). In 2020, R&DE began a long-term program to purchase from Black farmers. To share insights and knowledge gained from this program, SFI and its community partner, Farms to Grow, Inc., have co-produced two open-source toolkits to guide direct purchasing from Black farmers, and to equip farmers with the tools to engage with colleges, universities, and other institutions. Farms to Grow is an Oakland-based nonprofit whose mission is to assist African American farmers and other socially disadvantaged farmers in maintaining and creating sustainable farms. The toolkits project is intended to help scale the purchasing model, increase economic benefits to a much larger number of Black farmers, and raise awareness of the historical and systemic racial injustice inflicted on Black farmers. 

SFI and Farms to Grow received a grant through the Office of Community Engagement’s seed funds program to support farmer liaison work, including the research and writing of the toolkits, editorial review by Black farmers, distribution of materials, and a student event at Stanford.

The informative, thought-provoking educational event for students, “The Black Farmer’s Plight on the Road to Equity and Inclusion,” was co-hosted with the Stanford Doerr School’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in May 2023. Dr. Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost, R&DE, and senior advisor to the provost on equity and inclusion, opened the event with inspiring remarks about her vision for the Institute’s role in supporting Black farmers, which includes making R&DE’s commitment to DEIB a central focus of everything it does, along with prioritizing increased supplier diversity across R&DE departments. The students, staff, and campus community members who attended gained a deeper understanding of systemic racism and the resilience of generations of Black farmers, the role of institutions, such as Stanford, in advancing racial equity across food systems, and insights into the groundbreaking toolkits project.