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    "We belong to the land"

    April's BPOC Growers' Retreat

    We belong to the land: April’s BPOC Growers’ Retreat
    27/05/2022 Yali Banton Heath

    Jo Kamal reflects on their time spent at April’s BPOC Growers’ Retreat; organised by the Landworkers’ Alliance as part of the Activating Land Justice project.

    April’s BPOC* Growers’ retreat was unlike any other retreat I’ve ever attended. We shared vulnerabilities, shared difficulties and shared food in a space which held us in all of our complexity. Conversations happened in a healing container through which we unpicked the nuances of race, land and food together. We traversed the boundaries of discomfort, spirituality, isolation, trauma and care, each link and each connection tying us closer together in a beautiful web of multiplicity. 

    We swam in the freezing cold river, ran up the hill to watch the sunset, meditated in the morning, harvested vegetables for our dinner and sang healing songs around the fire. There was something magical about people with complex relationships to land being so beautifully held by the bees and the wild garlic and the river. There were tears, and there was rawness, but throughout the weekend, on any spot on the farm, you could hear the laughter and joy of Black people and people of colour echoing across the grass. There was something incredibly radical about this – something revolutionary about seeing BPOC languishing in the afternoon sun, resting in a world and an industry which is always pushing us to do more than our white counterparts. 

    The weekend at the retreat showed me that I could speak of race without censoring myself. It showed me that we are all so much more interconnected than we allow ourselves to believe. It showed me our experiences are not the same, but one thing we do have in common is our struggle for justice. More than anything, it showed me that my vision for our collective futures could not only be imagined, but that it was already here – waiting to be tapped into. I believe it showed us all that, with careful work and consideration, it is possible to heal in community intentionally. In fact, it was an example of how utterly crucial it is to heal in community, that there is no way we can fully heal without it, and that no matter how imperfect our attempts at healing in community might be, doing so is a political and spiritual necessity for us all. 

    For BPOC landworkers, to connect to each other is to do the work of reversing isolation and restoring interconnection.To speak unapologetically about our experiences to a room of kind, nodding faces is to remember our voices must be heard. To laugh and eat and cry together is to begin to revolutionise not only our industry but our relationship to self, land, and others. We belong on the land. We deserve to be here too. 

    An immense thank you to Claire and Becky for organising, holding, and hosting. 

     

    If you would like to join one the upcoming BPOC Growers’ Retreats – one in August and the other in September – there’s still time to let us know: deadline for expressions of interest are June 17th. For more info on the retreats, and how to express an interest please click here.

     

    *BPOC stands for Black people and people of colour

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