Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with Leigh Adcock, Part 2

In developing the press’s new list in food studies, acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks is talking to people who are active in the field. Recently, she spoke with Leigh Adcock, the executive director of the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, about her organization and its aims.

Catherine: On your website, you list one of your goals as insisting on “social and ecological justice.” What do you mean by “ecological justice,” and how is it related to social justice?

Leigh: “Ecological justice” refers to treating species besides Homo sapiens as having a claim in justice to a share of the Earth's resources. “Social justice” in the healthy food and farming movement refers to making sure all people have access to safe and healthy foods grown as close to their home as possible.

Catherine: Another of your goals is to engage people in “experiential learning.” Can you give an example of what you mean by this? What kinds of opportunities for this kind of learning are available now?

Leigh: “Experiential learning” is a concept that recognizes that people learn best by doing. WFAN offers opportunities for aspiring women farmers to pair up with women farmer mentors for eight to ten weeks of on-farm work during the growing season (our Harvesting Our Potential program), and for beginning women farmers (farming ten years or less) to be matched with farmer mentors for off-farm support over the course of a farming year. We also offer occasional “heritage skills” field days to share information on food preservation, weaving, etc. Our women landowner programming (Women Caring for the Land) involves a high degree of hands-on learning as well, including demonstration activities using familiar objects to teach basic conservation concepts and field tours to explore various conservation practices on the ground.

Catherine: Where can people learn more about the key issues that WFAN works on?

Leigh: Our website is the best source: We also maintain a sister site dedicated to women landowner issues at We are members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, so those interested in policy and advocacy should visit them at I also recommend Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, by Temra Costa, as a great collection of profiles of the women engaged in changing the face of agriculture and food in America today.

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