July Update from Executive Director, Hugo Mogollon
As a patron of our farmer markets, you may have read in the news and on social media that Black-owned businesses in our network expressed their experiences about the lack of diversity at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. I am grateful to the members of our community who raised these issues and have spent time talking with me over the past weeks about their experiences. As a person of color myself, racial equity and social justice are matters that are close to my heart. As part of our organization’s pledge to the community to be transparent, I would like to share a fuller picture.
FRESHFARM’s efforts have been inadequate. It is crucially important for us to understand how and why we have fallen short in making the Dupont Circle market’s platform accessible to all and, in particular, Black people and people of color. To gain this understanding, we have started an organization-wide assessment of all of our practices. We will also be working with experts in racial equity and social justice to help guide us. These are just some of the steps that will help ensure that we make good on our commitment to examine all of our programs and processes to ensure equity throughout our organization.
At the same time, we will strengthen FRESHFARM programs that address inequity. We will keep investing resources in our three Ward 7 Farm Stands, which have served for the last four years as permanent points of access to healthy foods in this Ward. We’re also planning to expand FoodPrints, our nutrition education program, to keep serving the most vulnerable children at school and in their homes. The Pop-Up Food Hub will continue to partner with community institutions serving marginalized and excluded communities across the region — during this pandemic, FRESHFARM has delivered almost $300,000 worth of healthy food through the Pop-Up Food Hub, impacting 3,000 individuals per week across the City.
But continuing our important programs and addressing lingering inequities in our organization is not enough. The food system itself is rife with racism. The low number of BIPOC farmers and businesses across the region is a symptom of racist policies that reduce access to land and capital. This system has crippled the development of BIPOC-owned farms and food businesses for decades.
Therefore, it is also important to examine how we can play a part in dismantling racism in the food system. With our recent merger, FRESHFARM now has an even larger voice in the region. We are committed to using that voice to advocate for long-term and systemic transformations not just at FRESHFARM, but within the larger food system.
The staff and the Board are highly motivated to make these changes. I do not doubt that this process will enable us to use FRESHFARM as a vehicle to bring greater equity to the food system in the region. We value you as a long term supporter of our organization, and we hope you work along with us.