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Where Women Gather: A Celebration of Women in Agriculture Conference and Sy...

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Heritage Hotel and Conference Center

522 Heritage Road

Southbury, CT 06488

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Dates: October 23, 2019 to October 25, 2019 (DATE CHANGE*)


Main Conference Meeting Space

Heritage Hotel and Conference Center (Confirmed*)

522 Heritage Road

Southbury, CT 06488

Breakout Rooms & Vendor Symposium

Heritage Hotel and Conference Center (Confirmed*)

522 Heritage Road

Southbury, CT 0648

This conference is eligible for CEs from Connecticut Certification Board and National Association of Social Workers (NASW CT). Confimation of receipt will be posted on the page in the coming months.

Contracted Hotels:

Heritage Hotel and Conference Center (Confirmed*)

522 Heritage Road

Southbury, CT 06488

Invited Speakers: Reconfirmed for 2019 as of 10/25/2018

Jillian Hishaw (Confirmed*)

Lise Metzger (Confirmed*)

Dr. Mike Rosmann (Confirmed*)

Keisha Cameron (Confirmed*)

Pending Speaker Requests:

Rowen White (Pending*)

Amani Olugbala (Pending*)

Nakia Navarro (Pending*)

Ahna Kruzic (Pending*)

Ruby Olisemeka (Pending*)

Kristin Jordan (Pending*)

Sara Wolcott (Pending*)

Ramasubramanian Balasubramanian Oruganti (Pending*)

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega (Pending*)

Zen Honeycutt (Pending*)

Onika Abraham (Pending*)

Kara Brewer Boyd (Pending*)

Danielle Nierenberg (Pending*)

Conference Information:

Working Theme: Women, Intersectionality and Food Systems

*This page will be updated periodically as Conference agenda items are confirmed*

To apply for a full or partial scholarship, please visit:


Day One, October 23, 2018

Sunrise yoga (TBD): 6:30 am to 7:15 am

Introduction: TBD: 8:00 am to 8:15 am

Welcome: Welcome to Southbury: 8:00 am to 8:15 am -TBD

Plenary Session: 8:45 am to 10:45 am


Break: 10:45 am to 11:15 am

Workshop Sessions: 11:15 am to 12:30 pm

Session A: Breaking Ground: How to Access NEGEF Awards & Sponsorships w/ Staff -TBD

In this workshop, background on the types of grants available through the New England Grassroots Environment Fund as well as trainiing/skill building resources to frontline organizers will be discussed in detail. The Grassroots Fund is a pooled fund with over 20 years experience resourcing the frontline of the New England environmental justice movement.

When participants finish the workshop, they will know:

  • How to apply for funding via the Grassroots Fund three grant programs as well as project ideas that fit the guidelines

  • How to participate in design of and attend RootSkills webinars and in-person trainings

  • How to apply for event sponsorships

  • How to participate in the Grassroots Fund community, including as a reader of grant applications or as a presenter at a RootSkills training or webinar

Session B: Systems Change through Dtory Telling/Making w/ Anha Kruzic

Women are shaping our food system for the better - we're leading efforts to create a fair, healthy,and sustainable food system from the ground up. But we're doing so despite significant challenges. Despite the fact that women participate in the production and processing of food at roughly equal rates to men, most undernourished people in the world are women and girls. The food system overall is highly dependent on the labor and skills of women, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to decision-making power. Instead, our labor is unpaid or underpaid, significantly more-so for women of Color, and we are subjected to high rates of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and violence on the job. But we're taking control of our food systems for the better by farming, organizing, and advocating for systems that are better for farmers, workers, their communities, and ultimately -- our planet.

Since women's leadership is key to the transformation of our food system, we must tell our stories, learn from one another's successes and challenges, and grow our movement into the future.

Join us for this workshop as together, we explore the power of the exploration of our histories and story-telling for food and agriculture transformation.

Session C: The Behavioral Health of Women and Minorities Involved in Agriculture w/ Michael R. Rosmann Ph.D.

Women currently are the primary operators of 17% of American farms and secondary operators of another third of U.S. farms. Like males, these women operate large crop and livestock farms in the U.S. as well as smaller and
often organic vegetable and animal production farms. People of color and females are increasingly pursuing livelihoods in agriculture in America these days. Can female American farmers improve the well-being of the two fifths of farmers around the world who are women, mostly in third world

This presentation takes a look at the unique behavioral
health problems that accompany agricultural occupations, drawing especially on the presenter's research and experiences as a licensed clinical psychologist and farmer for 40 years and as a professor and writer about
occupational and environmental health for two decades. There are significantly higher incidences of anxiety, depression and suicide among the agricultural population in comparison to the nonagricultural U.S. population. Relationship problems such as family conflict and abuse often are gender-related and are prime indicators of stress within agricultural
families, according to the author's research. People who are cultural and racial minorities in the U.S. frequently
experience special behavioral health adjustment issues, such as difficulties with their status as migrant workers and sometimes as undocumented immigrants, besides problems in daily living such as access to healthcare, schools and lack of family and social supports. Racial minorities wanting
to farm sometimes face resistance from the dominant culture in some locations around the U.S., although progress is being made in some of the main agricultural areas, like the West Coast. This presentation takes a look at the special issues of women and racial minorities in agriculture and
programs that are already addressing these concerns, as well as further recommended solutions to obstacles facing women in general and those of color in particular. Essentially, this presentation will describe major behavioral health
stressors experienced by women in agriculture and recommend ways women can manage their behavioral health. Three proposed objectives of this
presentation are the following:

  • Attendees will acquire knowledge about the unique behavioral health issues that are linked to agriculture and how these behavioral health diagnoses compare to those of the nonagricultural population.

  • Participants in this presentation will learn about gender-linked behavioral health issues of people engaged in agriculture that have been identified as specific to women.

  • The attendees will learn about recommended solutions to the particular behavioral health problems experienced by women and minorities in agriculture.

Lunch: 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, On your own!

Workshop Sessions: 1:45 pm to 3:00 pm

Session D: Re-focusing the Image of Women Farmers, One Story at a Time w/ Lise Metzger

Do you ever feel isolated or unseen as you work hard on your farm? Have you ever thought no one cares about your intense investment in what you do? Hearing the stories of other women can help make you feel connected to other people, or to yourself or to something you’d like in your own life. It can help you know that the work you do matters, and that people are paying attention and care.

The Grounded Women Project (http://groundedwomen.com/about-the-project/) tells the why and how story of independent farmers: what led each woman to choose a life in agriculture, for example, and what issues does she face as a woman?

Come gather together to hear the creator of Grounded Women tell the stories of women farmers as well as the story behind the stories. Leave with a knowing that one story at a time, one farm at a time, women are changing the face of agriculture.

Session E: Women in Cannabis by Kristin Jordan


Session F: TBD

Day Two, October 24, 2018

Sunrise yoga (TBD): 6:30 am to 7:15 am

Introduction: 8:30 am to 9:00 am - Women on the Move - Senator Heather Somers

Plenary Session: 9:15 am to 10:45 am - Planting Sacred Seeds in a Modern World; Restoring Indigenous Seed Sovereignty w/ Rowen White

All across Turtle Island (North America) we are seeing a great resurgence of indigenous tribes building healthy and resilient food systems as a cornerstone to cultural and ecological renewal programs, as well as a means to reclaim indigenous economies and true economic and political sovereignty. If a community is to be truly sovereign and free from colonizing forces, they must be able to feed and nourish themselves with culturally appropriate foods. Food and seed sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Despite the scorched earth tactics of countless colonial and imperial forces to try and starve Native American communities into submission and cultural amnesia, indigenous people and their seeds survived, and now a rich array of community food and seed sovereignty projects are sprouting, sowing seeds of hope in the hearts of many.

Through her work with the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, Rowen is helping indigenous communities cultivate culturally appropriate solutions to restoring seed stewardship of traditional foods. Using this seed work as a powerful means for reconciliation, she will share powerful and inspiring stories of the rematriation of our traditional seeds back into the reverent care of indigenous women. In the age of the increasing industrialization of our food and the erosion of biodiversity within cultural contexts, the Indigenous Seed Keeper Network asks the question; Can we envision the Seed Commons, and coordinate collaborative efforts to care and protect for our seeds that is in right relationship to our indigenous cosmology? How can we use the process of reclaiming our traditional seeds and food as a powerful means of cultural restoration?

Come learn about the beautiful seed legacy of the indigenous people of this land, and see how you can be a part of the reconciliation between yourself and the seeds of your own ancestry, and revitalize this ancient web of relationships that comes with being an indigenous Seed Keeper.

Attendees will gain an understanding of:

  • The dynamic intersection and importance between cultural restoration and the restoration of indigenous food and seed systems.

  • The importance of indigenous women taking a fierce and loving role in the rematriation of our heritage seeds back into our communities from government and university research programs and from the collections of museums and public access seed banks.

  • A heartfelt and deeply touching array of stories from indigenous communities from North America who are cultivating new seed and food culture as a means to heal historical trauma and reconnect to our ancestral lands.

Break: 10:45 am to 11:00 am

Workshop Sessions:. 11:15 am to 12:30 pm

Session G: At the Root: An Examination of White Sepremacy and Systemic Racism in US Food Systems w/ Ahna Kruzic

Though many movement participants presume alternative agriculture movement spaces to be economically, socially, and environmentally just, narratives of whiteness and color-blind racism permeate the movement’s collective discourse. I argue that a critique of whiteness and white supremacy is necessary to build sustainable food and agriculture movements that dismantle injustice.

In this session, we will identify common manifestations of whiteness in food and agriculture movement spaces, and learn tools to help identify our own narratives of color-blind racism and whiteness which reify white supremacy. This session is based on data analyzing communications from researchers, farmers, advocates, activists, and more across six communities in the United States.

Session H: Farming While Black by Amani Olubala

Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices - from organic agriculture to the CSA - have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence have deprived the Black community of farmland, capital, and healthy food access. Soul Fire Farm is part of a national network working toward food sovereignty and land justice. Learn how we can build upon Afro-Indigenous wisdom in reshaping the food system to be based on equity and abundance rather than exploitation and deprivation.

Session I: Enabling Caring Ecosystems w/

Ramasubramanian Balasubramanian Oruganti

and Sara Jolena Wolcott

What does it mean to be part of the whole – especially when the system as a whole seems set on ignoring or even harming your efforts? This workshop focuses on the role of remembering history in ways that empower us, engaging with our spiritualities, and telling the right story at the right time to effect needed change. It is a participatory workshop that will include storytelling, mapping your existing ecosystem (human and non-human) and considering where are the places for manageable, collective engagement that can enable greater rest, wealth, and health for all.

Lunch: 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, On your own!

Workshop Sessions: 1:45 pm to 3:00 pm

Session J: TBD

Session K: Feminism Is Not Enough! Reviving the Yoni Culture - A Celebration of the Feminine, An Awakening of the Goddess Within w/ Ruby Olisemeka

The feminist movement, mid 1800's onwards, has made significant ideological changes and tangible strides in the struggle for equality between men and women.

However the movement has centered historically around empowering, white women, and appears to seek assimilation into a fundamentally flawed societal model, rather than dismantling that model and all the oppressive systems that are woven within it.

The feminist movement also appears to not acknowledge the suppressed history off the ancient feminine goddess cultures and reviving them as a critical part of womens liberation.

In this interactive workshop we will critically analyze the concept of femininity, look at some feminine archetypes, and the cultures that created and celebrated them.

We will discuss the ways we can work to awaken this culture, first within ourselves.

We will practice some rituals and methods (herbal medicine making, land practices, mantras) to strengthen and express the divine feminine within.

Session L: TBD

Day Three, October 25, 2018

Sunrise yoga (TBD): 7:15 am to 8:00 am

Community Volunteering Opportunity:. Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (*****By registration only. Volunteers MUST COMMIT TO THE WHOLE DAY! Please check for more details on this opportunity by September 2018*****.).


Community Farm Tour # 1: Common Ground High School, TBD

Community Farm Tour # 2:. TBD

Community Farm Tour # 3: Slate School, TBD

Community Farm Tour # 4: TBD

Our Valued Supporters and Sponsors:


New England Grassroots Environmental Fund

Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board

Cabot Cheese of Vermont

Food First

Moutain Rose Herbs

Food Tank

Food Solutions New England

Natural Nutmeg Magazine

The Edible Schoolyard Project



Speaker Biographies:

Jillian Hishaw, Esq, L.L.M./Attorney

Jillian Hishaw, author of "Don't Bet the Farm on Medicaid" and Founder and CEO of Hishaw Law, LL.C in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.) a national nonprofit that provides legal and technical services to small farmers of color will discuss her experience working in agriculture as a woman of color in various capacities prior to establishing her own businesses out of necessity. Hishaw has previously worked for the Assistant Secretary Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Agriculture in Washington DC and on the Pigford (Black American farmer discrimination class action) and Keepseagle (Native American farmer discrimination class action) claims settlement process prior to establishing F.A.R.M.S. Since F.A.R.M.S. inception, over 220,000 lbs. of produce have been donated in high poverty rural communities of color and Black farms have been saved from foreclosure.

As a philanthropist, Hishaw has raised thousands of dollars for charitable food programs and published several law review and American Bar Association articles on agricultural and environmental topics i.e. the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, the Journal of Food Law & Policy and more! Hishaw holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Tuskegee University, Juris Doctorate and Legal Masters (LL.M) in Agricultural law from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville law school. For more information about F.A.R.M.S. please visit www.30000acres.org or www.jillianhishaw.com

Dr. Mike R. Rosmann/Farmer, Psycologist

Michael R. Rosmann is a psychologist and farmer whose life's work involves improving the behavioral healthcare of the agricultural population. He seeks to advance regional and global food production policy which enhances the behavioral and economic welfare of food producers, maintains stewardship of the land and other resources used in food production and protects the safety of food for consumers. In an era of increasing tension due to bioterrorist threats and shifts in the agribusiness climate, he is a voice for the agricultural population. The New York Times said this about him: a fourth generation farmer as well as a clinical psychologist, he speaks the language of men and women on the verge of losing their place on the land.

Michael R. Rosmann received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Utah. Following a five year stint as a faculty member in the psychology department of the University of Virginia, Rosmann and his family moved to their farm in rural western Iowa where he developed an organic crop and purebred livestock operation. He also provided mental health services to the farm population, first in private practice and then in community mental health centers. He developed the first mental health response in Iowa to the farm crisis of the 1980's. He initiated Prairie Rose Mental Health Center in Harlan, Iowa and was its director for eight years.

Lise Metzger/Photographer

Lise Metzger writes and photographs the project Grounded Women: Stories of Women Who Farm. She is an award-winning photographer who for the past 30 years has shot for advertising agencies, magazines and corporations, as well as creating branding imagery for individual clients. She has taught both digital and film photography at universities, high schools and in a men’s prison.

What started many years ago as severe stomach pains led to a deep dive to understand the connection between food and health, which led to a broader investigation of our food system as a whole and the social, political, economic, environmental, and health issues that result. She launched Grounded Women as a way to share the authentic and inspiring stories of women who choose a life in agriculture, and to contribute to changing the narrative around food and the women who grow it. You can see her work at lisemetzger.com andgroundedwomen.com.

Ahna Kruzic/Former Director of Publications and Communications, Food First

Ahna Kruzic is a community organizer turned activist-researcher from rural Iowa. Ahna has worked as researcher, community organizer, coalition-builder, and more. As Director of Publications and Communications at Food First, otherwise known as the Institute for Food and Development Policy, Ahna coordinates and contributes to communications, analysis, and research-for-action which seeks to dismantle exploitative racism, capitalism, and oppression in the food system.

Nakia Navarro/Former Program Director, New England Grassroots Environment Fund

Nakia Navarro hails from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts with her two children, Kayla and Mateo. Her nonprofit experience spans well over fifteen years and includes organizing roles within food rescuing, disaster response, as well as college access and success for low resourced students. In addition to working as a Program Director at the Grassroots Fund, Nakia wrote and teaches an environmental justice curriculum at area Boston, MA high schools and serves on the board of the Dorchester Food COOP. In addition, she is the author of The Messiness of Life, an Anthology and the Everdeen Series.

Nakia received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration with a minor in Spanish from Winthrop University, a Certificate in Global Communications from the University of Salamanca, and she is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Public Policy and Planning at Tufts University

Rowen White/Director, Sierra Seeds

Rowen White is a Seed Keeper from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and a passionate activist for seed sovereignty. She is the director and founder of the Sierra Seeds, an innovative organic seed stewardship organization focusing on local seed and education, based in Nevada City CA. She teaches creative seed stewardship immersions around the country within tribal and small farming communities . She is the current Project Coordinator and advisor for the Indigenous Seed Keeper Network, which is a part of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. Her Seed Seva Educational program is a wholistic, indigenous permaculture based approach to seed stewardship which honors the many layers of seed culture , from practical hands on skills, cultural context and memory with guiding principles that are rooted in an indigenous ecology of interconnected relations. She weaves stories of seeds, food, culture and sacred Earth stewardship on her blog, Seed Songs. Follow her seed journeys at www.sierraseeds.org.

Ruby Olisemaka/Farmer, Food Justice Advicate

Ruby Olisemeka is an independent educator/consultant focusing on socially transformative education; food justice and incorporating African and indigenous practices into farming and food & farming education. She began her farming career as an apprentice at Stone Barns (2011) and has since built numerous school and urban gardens in lower Westchester and Harlem. Ruby has over 10 years’ experience educating children and young adults, she has worked as an educator at Edible Schoolyard NYC, Harlem Grown and various public and private schools and institutions.

"We who do this liberation work want to bring about a revolution in our lifetime; we have deemed, with sadness, the current national and international power structure not fit to ensure and promote the full expression of life. I am part of a collective, a movement of people wanting to bring about a more just world. I am a farmer and teacher, a spiritualist and budding herbalist, an afro centrist and naturalist. My path as a farmer began with an apprenticeship at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in 2011.I've kept my hands in the soil ever since, building urban, suburban and periurban gardens in lower Westchester and Harlem. I teach (in classrooms, gardens, spaces where people can gather) children and adults how to do the work I do on land. A farmer can rarely escape the intersections of poverty, politics, food access or justice when farming sustainably. I am an activist working to dismantle the food and health related injustices Africans and people of African descent endure."- RO

Amani Olugbala

Amani Olugbala is the farm and food justice educator at Soul Fire Farm, Grafton NY, dedicated to ending racism and injustice in the food system. Amani's is a gifttoryteller who weaves music, film, speech and poem into art that highlights social injustice, honors the ancestors and demands for change. This, in an effort to uplift the spirits of the marginalized and promote love and service as necessary acts of rebellion against isolation and disconnection. An artist, farmer, educator and community organizer Amani uses artistic expression, urban agriculture and social awareness to impact change and foster a sense of empathy and inter-being in urban-rural communities.

Sara Jolens Wolcott, M.Div.

Sara Jolena Sequoia Wolcott, M.Div, is the Founding Director of Sequoia Samanvaya, LLC, an eco-theology education and consulting company connecting the disconnected. (www.sequoiasamanvaya.com). Sequoia Samanvaya LLC specializes in spiritually designed, community-building online courses that connect colonization and health/ecological crises such as climate change and sugar. She is a minister, healer, writer/artist and entrepreneur. Sequoia Samanvaya LLC arose from over a decade of Wolcott's search for the root causes of systemic injustices such as climate change. Her quest has led her to such varied experiences as co-leading international programs at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England; working on an organic farm; living as a singer/musician in India, and studying eco-theology at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York at Columbia University. For over 17 years, she has practiced 1-1 healing work in what she currently calls Sacred Bodywork. A valued international speaker, she has spoken in over 7 countries and 9 U.S. states. She regularly returns to her northern Californian birthplace on Ohlone territories. She currently lives in the Bronx, NY, in the historical homeland of the Lenape/Siwanoy peoples. When not running a start-up, hosting dinners for her community or working on her book, she enjoys painting, horseback riding, and cloud watching.

Ramasubramanian Balasubramanian Oruganti/Director, Sustainable Livelihood Institute

Ramasubramanian Balasubramanian Oruganti has been involved with the creation of networks of consumers, activists, farmers and enthusiasts around Sustainable Farming and Local Economy since 1998. In South India, it is estimated that 60-70 percent of the farmers are women. Has trained rural marginalized community leaders to mobilize themselves, adopt sustainable agriculture practices and become a market force since 2005. As consultant for the Government’s women in sustainable agriculture program, he has designed, through participatory processes, district level sustainable agriculture projects with women farmers for 6 districts in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu which has impacted over 5000 farming families. Has designed the system for managing the various components of the eco- system for the implementation of these programmes as well. Since launching of the Sustainable Livelihood Institute, he has designed and coordinated the training of over 2000 rural women leaders in sustainable agriculture practices. He is currently working with initiatives in 3 states of India on implementing sustainable agriculture practices, including with Dalit women leaders and indigenous (tribal/Adivasi) communities. His visit with the eco-theology company, Sequoia Samanvaya LLC, is his first entry into the United States. He hopes that what he has learned from these marginalized, collective communities in India may be of benefit to farmers and others in the USA. He considers himself first and foremost a storyteller and a student of village communities in India.

Performance Artist & Healers Biographies:

Kelvin Young

Kelvin Young is the Director of Toivo by Advocacy Unlimited, Holistic Stress Management Instructor, and Sound Alchemist. As a recognized leader in the addiction recovery movement and throughout the holistic healing community, Kelvin’s powerful healing journey began while he was in prison, where he found inner peace, self-realization, and love through meditation, yoga, and the expressive arts. Bringing his story of personal transformation into the community, Kelvin has shared his story with thousands of individuals in or seeking recovery. In 2014 Kelvin became the Director of Toivo by Advocacy Unlimited - a center for holistic healing and stress management in Hartford, Connecticut. Kelvin continues to share his story of healing from within as a passionate public speaker, and he is known for his warm, loving, and down-to-earth way of connecting with people.

Ed Cleveland

Ed Cleveland is a Reiki and Sound Teacher, Neuroacoustical Practitioner combining indigenous sound instruments. Combining with Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuromusicology, and Psychophysiology. Acoustic Designer of Soundscapes using the high, low, ascending, descending pitch, intervals, and inversion, thick, and thin in harmony with crescendo, or diminuendo’s to open the imagination and intellect.

Questions? Please feel free to contact Michelle L. Bicking at ourhiddenacresfarm@gmail.com at any time.

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Heritage Hotel and Conference Center

522 Heritage Road

Southbury, CT 06488

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