By Erin Middleton, CFJC Community Outreach Specialist
February 27th was the global day of action to Occupy Our Food Supply. It brought together thousands globally from the Occupy, Sustainable Farming, Food Justice, Buy Local, Slow Food, and environmental movements to creatively confront the corporate control of our food supply and take action to build healthy, accessible food systems for everyone. Inspired by the theme CREATE/RESIST, Oakland communities, activists and food justice organizations came together to hold two CREATE-rooted events.
The first event, Occupation for Self Determination, was held in East Oakland at the Uhuru house on Saturday 2/25. Attendees participated in three full talks about the black communities, self determination, the history of the black power movement and then learned about Uhuru House’s upcoming Oakland Freedom Summer Project. One of the speakers, Diop Olugbala, president for the International Peoples Democratice Uhuru Movement, caught the essence of the daylong event, “We’re calling on a broad sector of Oakland’s population… for everyone to unite with the demand for self determination for oppressed people, especially the African community.” After the insightful presentations, participants enjoyed lunch and kicked off the Uhuru House’s community garden. The garden was a tangible step to answer the call that “African people must be in control of our own source and supply of food” (Diop Olugbala) as part of self determination.
On the official Day of Action (Monday 2/27), different community residents came together for a “Stop the RoundUp!” event at Tassafargonga Farm, also in East Oakland. Kelly Carlisle, the Executive Director of Acta Non Verba, the non-profit running the garden, spoke about her gratitude to all of the organizations and youth community members who attended the event. “It was inspiring to see so many people come out for this day of solidarity. Planting lavender along the perimeter to stop the use of herbicides near our community garden was our primary mission on Occupy the Food Supply day of action. The fact that so many people were moved to come out and help us in that goal lets us know that individuals do notice and care about food and environmental justice in East Oakland.” A celebratory, home cooked dinner with music followed event activities and ended at sunset.
Both events supported and celebrated community work already underway in Oakland neighborhoods and were truly about creating aspects of a more holistic, healthy and helpful food system for all people.