Keynote and Plenaries

Friday morning opening plenary: Humanizing the Food System

What do we mean by “Humanizing the Food System” – the whole food system as it currently exists? What does it look like in action? How can we foster more meaningful, productive conversations that bridge differences and address shared goals, even in the ongoing presence of differences?

We aim to create a space where inquiry, non-reactive listening, and networking can flourish. Join us for an introduction to our keynote and plenary speakers followed by an in-depth examination of one of the dominant agricultural sectors of the Chesapeake Bay area, poultry, to explore some of the profound challenges facing poultry producers, workers, communities, and business. What might be gained when different players in this heated conversation take a humanizing approach to engagement?

Speakers: Michael Rozyne, NESAWG Board Chair & Red Tomato; Kathy Lawrence, NESAWG Board member and Food Systems Consultant; Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, NESAWG Board Member and Black Church Food Security Network; Dr. Samina Raja, University of Buffalo

Friday afternoon plenary: Beyond Charity: How Baltimore's Grassroots Community Is Growing Its Own Food System

We talk a lot about the racial inequity in the food system, but we are not doing enough to meaningfully address it. Starting with the Baltimore Uprising and how that exacerbated food insecurity in Baltimore's Black neighborhoods, what are the untold stories of racial injustice in food systems work, and what are the inspiring stories? What is needed to make our food system truly be equitable? What can we do to make the sustainable food systems movement truly equitable? What are some things we can do right now, that would make meaningful strides in that direction?

Speakers: Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III, NESAWG Board Member and Black Church Food Security Network; Eric Jackson, Black Yield Institute; Sache' Jones, No Boundaries Coalition; Xavier Brown, Soilful City 

Friday evening keynote: Food Systems As If People Matter (For Policy)

Samina Raja’s keynote will highlight the necessity for building inclusive and humane food systems through people-centered policy. People-centered policies (ideally) create structures where all food systems stakeholders belong, where discourse is civil, and practices are humane.  Dr. Raja will draw on lessons from across the US and the Global South to share insights and cautionary notes about the future of food systems.  

Speaker: Dr. Samina Raja, University of Buffalo

​​Dr. Samina Raja is a global leader in food systems planning. Her research and leadership has empowered not only communities of color in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, but throughout the U.S. and global south. She is the founder of the Food Lab at University of Buffalo, supporting food systems researchers in service of vulnerable communities and Growing Food Connections, a national network of food system planners. She is a native of Kashmir, India and is a Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Buffalo.

Food systems planning may be a nascent field, but it’s of crucial importance for scaling sustainable agriculture and improving food access and economic opportunity in communities of color. While there are many academic, nonprofit, and government organizations devoted to studying the food system, very few partner with low-income and communities of color to create lasting change. Dr. Raja’s innovative work provides a welcome blueprint for researchers who seek such partnerships, however unlikely they may appear at first glance.

Saturday afternoon closing plenary: An Opening: Considering the Practical Ways of Humanizing

Join plenary leaders in a broad full-room conversation about what comes next. Audience members are encouraged to share their experience of the conference – one thing they found most stimulating, provocative, troubling, funny, or affirming – while keeping our eyes on the future and the next conference. Some ideas for NESAWG 2018 will be shared. The conference will end with synthesis, our conference experience blended with our desires and wisdom about what comes next.

Speakers: Dr. Samina Raja, University of Buffalo; Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III, NESAWG Board Member and Black Church Food Security Network; Kathy Lawrence, NESAWG Board Member; Michael Rozyne, NESAWG Board Member and Red Tomato; Tracy Lerman, NESAWG Executive Director