Podcast Gems: What Land Liberation Means for Maryland

    November 4, 2019

Written by Arli Lima of Arli’s Appetite

Photos taken by Leta Harrison

On episode 33 of the Edible Activist Podcast, host Melissa L. Jones was joined by Dom Hosack, black farmer and Farm Director at THEARC Farm in Washington, D.C.  The podcast features dynamic people of color working in food and agriculture willing to share personal stories and perspectives that stem from their food journeys and farm land.  Interviews include farmers, artists, healers, everyday growers and other individuals who exemplify activism in their own edible way. The two talked about land liberation and what it means to reclaim the land that was taken from people of color.  Dom started his PhD in Community and Behavioral Health at the University of Maryland, but left before completing it because he was “disillusioned with academia and tired of theorizing things that were emotionally impacting him.” He decided to do something with the knowledge gained— he left university to become a full-time farmer.  When asked his definition of land liberation, he replied “Land Liberation is sort of an anti-capitalist framework where we are viewing the land, not as just some commodity, but actually the land and the earth as this system that we are a part of, and that we need to love, need to nurture, and that we need to respect.” 

Here are a few takeaways on his views about Land Liberation:

Free the Land

We need to realize that this land was originally our land and this land is for everybody.  Big businesses are coming in and grabbing up the empty land and building condominiums and retail stores but that same land could be used as farms where people could grow their own food.  It’s a capitalist, western idea to use real estate and private property to divide and conquer all empty land. We should reconnect with the land by looking at it as not just a plot of dirt but as a living skin that we inhabit.  

Our Food System Is a Monopoly

If you go into a grocery store like Whole Foods, you’ll see food is expensive.  Big agribusiness plays a huge part in grocery store prices. Most farms are owned and tied up in “big business” and this is how a large number of our vegetables and fruits are manufactured. Some of the same companies that are buying the land and building on it are also buying the land and farming on it and charging us above value for their own financial gain.  We can build affordable farms for our own people on that land and put structures in place that help them start their own small farms and homesteads. 

Photos taken by Leta Harrison

Farming Is Not Easy

We need to remove the mystique and preconceived notions that farming is easy; it seems easy until you do it.  It can be frustrating, especially when the weather doesn’t cooperate and the results are out of your control. You can get a plot of land to grow the most beautiful kale and collards in the world but if you don’t have cold storage and a wash station, you’re just going to have tons of food spoilage. In this region, you need a high tunnel to extend your season because it gets cold here. There needs to be a tangible arm of the farming movement that’s actually building structures and providing jobs for our folks.  

There Is No Culture Without Agriculture 

Our ancestors had a real connection to the land. We need to take back resources that were stolen from black and brown people historically and currently.  We need to get back the private property and give the land back to the people that are actually working the land. Urban farms and gardens have been threatened long enough and taking direct political action against the threat is what will help the farming system.  We need to return to our ancestral ways where the land was communal and everyone had access to resources. 

 

This episode of Edible Activist Podcast was sponsored by Fair Farms Maryland

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