MADERA, CA (April 18, 2023) – The American Friends Service Committee’s Pan Valley Institute (PVI) will celebrate Earth Day from April 20 to April 22 with a “Salt of the Earth: Cultivating Climate, Food, and Land Justice” national Encuentro (gathering). The gathering seeks to bring more recognition to the Indigenous immigrants in the region who cultivate the land that produces approximately 25 percent of the food that feeds the U.S. population.
The need to ensure a more just, sustainable future for all has never been greater. “Rapid climate change is having a profound impact on farmworkers and other disenfranchised communities,” said Juan Santiago, a volunteer member of the Salt of the Earth planning committee. “This is further intensified when access to basic services is cut off. The closure of the only community hospital in the city of Madera is an example of how tens and thousands of residents are left without access to emergency services and this further increases the social inequity which farmworker communities continue to face.”
For the first time in the Central Valley, the Salt of the Earth gathering will bring together small farmers, farmworkers, cultural organizers, artists, academics, and climate, food, and land justice activists to share experiences and exchange ideas. Participants at this event, will reflect on strategies for building climate, food, and land justice for all and work together to create a different Central Valley that is more humane for its people and its land and where all its residents can feel a true sense of belonging and opportunity.
In addition to traditional workshops and panels, the conference will feature a series of special events:
Round Table on Wheels: There is a bus tour on April 21 at 8 am to visit small farmers in Madera and Fresno County. This tour provides an opportunity for participants to see where our food comes from and how it is produced—while learning about the challenges farmers and farmworkers face. These farm visits will provide individuals with information on how to take action towards building a more sustainable and equitable food system that respects the health and well-being of all people and the nature.
A Cultural Kitchen: On April 21 at 5pm, this event will highlight immigrant cuisines focusing on chefs and entrepreneurs emerging from local immigrant communities and how the U.S. is gaining new flavors and adding to its rich cultural diversity. Special Guests include Martha Toledo, Zapotec singer-songwriter and cultural organizer from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; Salt of the Earth Keynote speaker Carlton Turner, who will offer food from Utica, Mississippi; and Gilberto Robles Vázquez, Coordinator of the Cooperativa Cafés Especiales de Chiapas.
Original artwork: California-based artists Jose Arenas will be signing the commemorative poster. There will be exhibition of two original pieces of vinyl by Narciso Martinez and Hana Luna will present an interactive mural.
Platicas: On Saturday April 22 there will be two rounds of platicas (dialogues) on the Socioeconomic Impact of Agribusiness and Guiding Principles and Strategies for Social Justice. These dialogues will cover topics such as labor economic, wages, migration, and labor rights, the environmental Impact of agribusiness, land stewardship, women, farmworker, motherhood, and entrepreneurship and decolonization among others.
There will be opportunities for photo-ops, and interviews with guests and participants. For more information about the event and to register, visit https://panvalleyinstitute.org/home/salt-of-the-earth-lp-1/
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The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.