Regional Network Building

Back to the Root

The Black Food Sovereignty Coalition's signature program is the annual Back to the Root conference, which we launched with Mudbone Grown in 2019. This historic regional Black growers conference, the first of its kind in Oregon, was funded by a USDA NIFA grant and provided over a 100 BIPOC growers, farmers, producers, educators, advocates, and ranchers the opportunity to gather, network, learn about our history, discuss experiences, and build strategies. This culturally rooted event also served as a call for participation in the annual OSU Small Farms Conference held the next day in Corvallis where a cohort of sponsored participants attended detailed technical workshops on soil science, producer skills improvement, market development, and farming infrastructure.

In 2020, BFSC and Mudbone Grown hosted the second annual Back to the Root gathering. In its second year, it expanded to a two-day event that drew over 135 people from across the region including California, Oregon, and Washington. The first day of the conference featured two panel sessions (climate justice and hemp); a keynote session from Black farmer Renard Turner of Vanguard Ranch; and a variety of breakout sessions on land justice, starting a farm, herbal medicine, seed growing, land-based healing, urban food justice, and more. The second day of the conference included visits to local projects including Black Futures Farm, Unity Farm, and Wapato Island Farm, and a tour of Ecotrust\'s Redd West co-led with New Seasons.