Sharing Our Values and Standing Up Against Racism — Guest Post from Napa Farmers Market
By: Cara Mae Wooledge, MPH Posted On: August 6, 2020
The following is a guest blog post by Cara Mae Wooledge, MPH, Market Manager of Napa Farmers Market for National Farmers Market Week. During the week, we are recognizing the important work of farmers market operators as leaders in their communities. Active initiatives towards equity and inclusion are vital components of FMC’s mission to strengthen farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.
2020 has presented farmers’ market operators with many opportunities to stand up as community leaders in response to unprecedented challenges. Before becoming the Napa Farmers Market Manager, I worked as a Health Education Specialist for Napa County Public Health and spent over a decade preparing for and responding to emergencies. In the last few months, my experience has helped us adapt quickly to massive operational changes required to run a safe market during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the murder of George Floyd ignited international outrage over police brutality against black people, many organizations began making statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. On June 3, the Farmers Market Coalition shared “Standing Together Against Racism: Black Lives Matter”, which caught our attention here in Napa, California. I firmly believe that social justice is a core public health principle, so in my mind there was no question that the Napa Farmers Market should join in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Together with my board of directors, we started the process by having an honest conversation to first determine consensus. Was a statement necessary? Was it a good idea? Did we have time to dedicate to this effort considering the pandemic? The answer to all our questions was yes: this was a crucial moment to publicly state our values and acknowledge our flaws as an organization. Then we discussed how could we make a meaningful statement that would demonstrate commitment to real change. At this point, we formed an ad hoc committee to craft a message which would include action items. On June 22, we shared our statement via email and social media.
We pledge to:
- Hear and support the BIPOC community.
- Open our market’s education activities to include discussions of race and food injustice.
- Seek and support BIPOC-owned and operated farms and businesses at the Napa Farmers Market.
- Feature diverse chefs via our chef demos.
- Address uncomfortable questions of inequity and racism within the dynamic of our market’s vendors and customers.
- Recruit new board members who represent the communities we aim to serve.
- Continue to fund and support programs that eliminate food injustice in our Napa community.
As allies, we must do better. This is a human rights issue, and we believe that Black Lives Matter.
The response from our followers, customers and community has been overwhelmingly positive. Today the conversation continues at the board level about how we will prioritize and implement action items in our pledge. During these times of historic change, it is especially important to use our platform to publicly expresses our organizational values and intentions. We must also take steps to review current and develop new policies that reflect our commitment to improving our practices. Through both external and internal work, we can make strides to ensure the Napa Farmers Market truly is our community’s market in terms of equity and social justice.
Cara Mae Wooledge, MPH is the market manager of the Napa Farmers Market. In Napa, California. Cara Mae supports the Napa Farmers Market Board of Directors in fundraising, strategic partnerships, marketing, and community engagement. She brings with her inexhaustible energy, and over 10 years of experience working to improve public health and increase wellness in Napa County.