By Melissa Wharton
Stakeholders in the local food movement in Kansas City, Missouri are holding a forum with community members to discuss local food production and how it relates to race, gender, class and history in the metropolitan area. The forum is on Sunday, November 12 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Independence Boulevard Christian Church (IBCC), at 606 Gladstone Blvd.
The goal of the forum is to determine what food justice looks like in Kansas City. Event coordinator Jenna Wilkins said food justice is created by doing work that increases equity in the food system, from production to distribution to the service industry. She said this work must be done by taking into account race issues, labor, economics and the environment.
“We want to give [opportunities] to people whose experiences aren’t always reflected in mainstream messages of food in Kansas City,” Wilkins said. “To do this we’re making sure our panelists include people of color, growers, and community activists.”
Panelists at the event will be Nadine Farris, a Kansas City, Missouri resident who runs the Paseo West Community Garden; Michael Pearl, whose family owns one of the oldest black farms in Missouri; Ryan Tenney, a vegetable grower and artist who recently expanded his operation to 26 acres near 350 and Noland Road in Kansas City, Missouri; and David Valdiviezo, a Kansas City, Kansas native and community organizer currently working on his Master’s of Urban Planning through the University of Kansas.
The moderator will be Chhaya Kolavalli, who is pursuing her PhD in Cultural Anthropology through the University of Kentucky. Her doctoral research has focused on black and brown growers around Kansas City and explores the intersection of race and local food systems.
“The event is supposed to be a conversation starter. My goal is that it empowers people to have control and challenge them to think more critically about what’s going on,” Wilkins said. “At the end what I hope the panel prods people to do is consider themselves more as citizens, and have a responsibility to hold people and orgs and people in power accountable.”