On a small plot of land on the outskirts of Chicago, a farm collectively owned by gender-non-conforming immigrants will cultivate produce and a younger generation of food justice activists. That’s the vision that Viviana Moreno, Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco and Jazmín Martinez, organizers and farmers based in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, are working to turn into reality.
Catatumbo Collective, as the three call themselves, told Rural America In These Times in an email: “We’re approaching a worker-owned farm through an intersectional and holistic lens that understands that our community’s issues can be addressed in part by sustainable farming and food justice educational programs.”
Viviana, Ireri and Jazmín have known each other from years of organizing against deportations in Chicago and working in Little Village’s Semillas de Justicia community garden.
Of Venezuelan and Mexican heritage, the three incorporate their families’ experiences — with land stewardship and NAFTA-driven migration — and the history of campesinos’ and Indigenous peoples’ land struggles into their approach.
As they got more involved with Chicago’s urban agriculture movement, Ireri found few resources that provided the needed historical or cultural context. “History of the land, history of the exploitation and abuse of people working the land, and the history of resistance and resilience by Indigenous people and people of color,” Ireri says, was lacking.
They found a resource in Soul Fire Farm, a people-of-color-led farm and educational center based in Grafton, N.Y. Last summer, they all attended Soul Fire’s Black and Latinx Farmer Immersion, a program designed to impart ecologically-restorative farming techniques to people of color and to foster conversation about racism, and racial justice, in the food system.
At Soul Fire, co-founders Leah Penniman and Jonah Vitale-Wolff “gave us the space to come together, look at each other and realize [that] we are who we have been…