One of the few good things to come out of 2020 was an appreciation of the people who grow and sell everything we eat. U.S. food production is industrialized and heavily dependent on fossil fuels, two systems that tend to sideline anyone with different perspectives and ideas. But some farmers and other folks are creating smarter, fairer, and cleaner ways of filling our bellies.
Every year, the Grist 50 highlights emerging leaders with new solutions for creating a more sustainable, equitable world. These five are drawing on old traditions to create a brighter future.
1. Mushroom farmer Olivia Watkins launched the Black Farmer Fund to speed the flow of money and technical assistance to farmers of color in New York.
2. The I-Collective, cofounded by Neftalí Durán, provides a support network for farmers, cooks, restaurant workers, and activists while promoting Indigenous food sovereignty.
3. Massachusetts beekeeper Ang Roell creates community for queer and trans bee farmers, bringing new buzz to indie farms.
4. On the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, Aaron Lapointe is working land that had been farmed by non-Natives for years, introducing regenerative agricultural practices and reframing farming as an investment in the long term.
5. Eduardo Rivera grew up in Mexico surrounded by farming and food. He’s recreating that in Wisconsin, where he raises 60 crops on a 17-acre farm specializing in ingredients for Latin cuisine.