Climate Change,  Conservation,  General,  Marketplace Equity

Finding “Common Ground” Around Sustainable, Equitable Food Systems

Lauren and Nicole (from left) with popcorn and ready to watch Common Ground

In early November, OEFFA Grassroots Policy Organizers Lauren and Nicole had the pleasure of participating in a happy hour and movie screening of Common Ground. The screening was hosted by our partners at the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council.

The Food Policy Council is an initiative of Green Umbrella and a collaboration between individuals and organizations working toward a vision of a resilient food system.

Common Ground is a follow-up to the film Kiss the Ground. Both highlight the importance of investing in local food systems and planetary health to foster a resilient food safety net. 

Promoting Conservation, Addressing Consolidation

Common Ground took ideas and topics introduced in Kiss the Ground to another level. The film touched on the vast changes needed in our food and farm system and who controls the policies to enact that change. From speaking with members of Congress and USDA officials, there was a common theme of the need for conservation on our lands to have healthy food. In fact, Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) who was interviewed in the film said, “Conservation and conservative are almost spelled the same.”

To secure healthy food in the future, there needs to be bipartisan support for legislation that protects our natural resources. 

The other main theme was the consolidation of our agricultural system. Common Ground hit on much of the work we do in our policy program at OEFFA. The film shared that land grant universities get money from corporations like Monsanto. When those with deep pockets control what gets funding and resources, it can result in several other critical issues. Some that were acknowledged in the film include the increasing rates of suicide among farmers and higher cancer rates for farm workers.

It is essential that we shift the narrative from propping up the extractive agriculture industry that benefits the “big guys” to supporting local farmers who are actually feeding our communities.   

Centering BIPOC Voices

Another shift from Kiss the Ground was the centering of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices. Professor George Washington Carver, an agricultural scientist, was highlighted in the film. Given the broad reach of the star-studded Common Ground and the folks at Kiss the Ground (the organization), we were pleased to see such essential voices highlighted.

We are eager to see more diverse voices uplifted by other organizations and individuals who have a large platform, membership, and following. Sustainable farming is rooted in Indigenous, regenerative practices that need to be recognized in all the work we do. 

Join Us!

Now for us, the grassroots, we can do so much more. Gaining information and having important conversations are essential to building community and change. There is so much that organizations, community members, and farmers can do to shift the narrative through policy change.

After our own successful screening of Kiss the Ground last year at Studio 35, OEFFA’s Policy Program is looking forward to holding our first-ever film screening in 2024.

This series is free and open to the public. It offers an opportunity for folks across Ohio to come together in community and learn more about the sustainable agriculture movement. After each screening (aside from Digging In), we will have a panel discussion with experts on the topics of the films. This will undoubtedly spark further conversation and inspire us to work together for policy change. With opening and closing remarks at each event from OEFFA staff, we will offer ways for folks to further engage with the Policy Program and OEFFA in general.