William Smith (2019)

The Bay Area Food Revolution: Transforming our Current Foodways

As a graduate from UC Berkeley, Will is a co-founder and farmer for the Black Earth Farming collective. The Black Earth Farms Collective is an agroecological ‘lighthouse’ organization composed of skilled Pan-African and Pan-Indigenous farmers, builders, healers, and educators who spread ancestral knowledge and train community members to build collectivized, autonomous, and chemical free food systems in urban and peri-urban environments throughout the Greater East San Francisco Bay Area (occupied Ohlone & Miwok land). Our work regenerates our community’s connection to and reverence for land and agriculture, which was severed from our ancestors through colonial violence, and removed from our elders through multinational corporate exploitation. One of our main priorities is ensuring low-income and houseless communities in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, and Richmond have consistent access to culturally relevant healthy food and natural medicine including, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, and cannabis. We are seeking to access a rural farmstead land base in the Bay Area in order to grow more chemical-free food and medicine for communities in need. We also plan to start a farmer training program and exchange for young farmers of color to horizontally collaborate, educate, and reclaim our ancestral stewardship with the land.

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Biography

Will is a black and korean farmer and food activist based upon occupied Ohlone tribal territory in the East Bay. As an undergraduate at Cal, Will's studies focused on agroecology and indigenous foodways.  He graduated in December 2018 with a degree in Conservation Resource Studies in the College of Natural Resources. Within a predominantly white college, Will, with the help of others, fought for students of color to have safe spaces, specifically green spaces, where students can steward the land and reconnect with ancestral practices surrounding food and medicine. This included implementing guerilla gardens in vacant campus spaces, protecting those spaces against unjust administrational forces, and engaging with other students to form a relationship with the land they are on.