Editor’s note: Civil Eats is taking the week off. To tide you over until we resume our regularly scheduled programming on August 12, we are highlighting some of our recent coverage of inspiring people working across the food system. These diverse leaders are chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and more, and their stories reveal solutions to supporting communities and creating a healthier future nationwide.
Since 2005, the founder of the Tiger Mountain Foundation in Phoenix, Arizona has recruited and worked with thousands of formerly incarcerated people, teaching them practical, on-the-job skills for growing food, maintaining landscaping, and more. The foundation grows produce for 12 of the region’s farmers’ markets, and has helped more than 1,000 entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
Kate Greenberg: Shaping Colorado’s Farmland for the Next Generation
The 31-year-old advocate and policymaker has her work cut out for her: How to preserve the state’s farming and ranching traditions amidst a wave of farm retirements, development pressures, and climate change?
Art Cullen: Putting Rural Politics on the National Stage
The Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaperman from Storm Lake, Iowa, has used his “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise, and engaging writing” to get readers to look closer and think harder about the political, economic, and environmental challenges unfolding in the Midwest.
Reverend Floyd D. Harris, Jr.: Changing the Narrative about Farming for Black Youth
At the Freedom School Demonstration Farm in Fresno, California, Harris offers cultural, educational, and job skills programs to at-risk students in grades K-12, while reclaiming the history of Black farmers in California’s Central Valley and feeding their communities.
Vincent Medina, Louis Trevino, Crystal Wahpehpah: Indigenous Chefs Reviving Native Cuisines
Medina and Trevino’s Café Ohlone and Chef Crystal’s Wahpepah’s Kitchen are at the forefront of a wave of Native restaurants reclaiming their land, history, culture, and food traditions in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Patrick Mulvaney: Building a Support System for Restaurant Workers
After losing a dozen members of Sacramento’s restaurant and hospitality community in 2018 to suicide and substance abuse, Chef Patrick Mulvaney has been working with fellow chefs, entrepreneurs, healthcare providers, and more to create “I Got Your Back,” a peer-to-peer program to provide counseling, support, and education to help stop an epidemic in the industry.
Silvana Salcido Esparza: Fighting for Equality from the Kitchen
The Phoenix-based queer, Latina chef has earned five James Beard Award nominations and Food & Wine’s Best Mexican Chef designation, but in addition to serving comida chingona—badass food—she’s fighting for equality, diversity, and immigrant rights in the kitchen and the world.
Reverend Melony Samuels: Changing the Way Brooklyn Eats
As the founder of The Campaign Against Hunger, the borough’s largest food pantry, Samuels and her staff and volunteers now serve healthy food to 30,000 people in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood every month.
Haile Thomas: The Gen-Z CEO Reinventing Nutrition Education
Now 18, the founder of HAPPY has brought a peer-to-peer education model to young people around the world. Based in New York state, she’s empowering students to make healthy lifestyle choices and minimize the occurrence of preventable health issues.
Raphael Wright: Trying to Build Detroit’s Only Black-Owned Grocery Store
The entrepreneur is in the midst of a more than two-year-long effort to fill a vacuum in Black-owned and operated full-service grocery stores.
The Sante Fe-based Kiowa chef has dedicated her life to teaching people about Native American food, with a focus on resolving the pervasive health problems in Native communities through diet.
Amanda Beal: Creating a New Vision for New England’s Food System
As Maine’s new commissioner of agriculture, Beal is uniquely positioned to help bring about a robust, conservation-minded, sustainable, and just New England food system.
Rosalinda Guillen: A Force for Farmworker Justice
For the past 30 years, the organizer and labor activist and founder of Community to Community Development in Washington state, has worked to strengthen local and global movements toward social, economic, and environmental justice.
William Padilla-Brown: The 25-Year-Old Bringing Mushroom Cultivation to the Masses
The self-taught, Pennsylvania-based mushroom farmer, entrepreneur, and educator is working to make mushroom cultivation accessible to everyone, in particular to people of color, who are often underrepresented in the mycology community.
In addition to these profiles, each month, Civil Eats profiles a pioneering farmer, showcasing their work and the ways it has advanced our understanding of sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation, social justice, and new visions for regional food systems. Get caught up with some of this year’s farmers-of-the-month.
The fourth-generation rancher holistically manages 5,000-acres that serve as a model for sustainable meat operations in the Pacific Northwest.
Andrew and Krista Abrahams: At This Small, Family-Run Dairy, Animal Welfare Comes First
At Long Dream Farm in the California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, the Abrahams allow their heritage breed cattle to live out their lives and serve as partners in food production.
San Xavier Cooperative Farm: An Indigenous Community Deepens its Agricultural Roots in Tucson
After securing much-needed water rights, the co-op farm on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Tucson, Arizona is honoring thousands of years of the tribe’s farming history.
Ana Elisa Pérez Quintero and Jorge Cora: Finca Conciencia Is Building Food Sovereignty on Vieques Island
The only agro-ecological farm on the Caribbean island is feeding people who have long struggled with food access—and working to advance social and political freedom in the process.
On his 7,000-acre property, Rick Clark uses non-GMO seeds, no-till farming, crop rotation, and cover crop diversity to regenerate soils and turn a profit.
Thomet works in balance with nature to grow highly sought-after specialty crops, while sequestering carbon and building a regional food economy.