Forum Event Program

This program is subject to change. Please note that all times below are in Central Time.

Note: Any activity that has a plus sign to the right of it is expandable. Click the + to see more information.

The 20th Annual SAFSF Forum: Commitment & Accountability is sponsored by GRACE Communications Foundation and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Additionally, you will see session sponsors listed in the program below.

Sunday, June 19

1:00 – 7:00 PM

Registration Open

Check-in for the Forum at the registration desk once you arrive. 

4:30 – 6:30 PM

Informal Networking Social

Kick-off your time at the Forum by joining your colleagues for informal mixing and mingling. Connect with peers and SAFSF staff and leadership over drinks. (No-Host Event)

Monday, June 20

8:00 – 9:15 AM


9:00 – 9:30 AM

Funder Welcome & 2022 Focus Area Overview

9:30 – 9:45 AM

Break / Find Your Workshop

9:45 – 11:45 AM

Funder Peer Sessions

These facilitated peer sessions are designed to let funders share stories and best practices based on your own experiences, bring forth challenges you are facing, and hear your peers’ thoughts and strategies for impactful engagement. 

Session themes are informed by SAFSF’s 2022 Focus Areas: Climate Change, Consolidation and Concentration, and Land Access. These three focus areas offer multiple points of intersection with almost every food, agriculture, and fiber system issue that SAFSF members fund in each year. 

Choose your session from one of the themes listed below, and join with other funders interested in advancing the conversation. Come ready to share!

  • Climate Change – Farmers and farm communities in the U.S. and abroad will be increasingly challenged by the impacts of a warming climate. Droughts, flooding, and extreme weather events are already affecting farmers, farm workers, and supply chains. Climate change additionally has disproportionate impacts on rural communities, Indigenous peoples, and communities of color.

    In this session, participants can discuss funding and investments that are helping to increase farm-level resilience, build healthy soils, and sequester carbon. We’ll also hear about how funder and investor peers are investing in movement building, organizing, research, policy development, and advocacy.
  • Consolidation and Concentration – Today’s U.S. farm landscape is dominated by large farms and farm interests. Consolidation extends throughout the value chain, from consolidation of meat processing by a handful of companies to consolidation of institutional food service vendors.

    Participants will discuss how philanthropic funders and impact investors are countering this trend and supporting NGOs and experts. Efforts include financial and technical assistance, narrative change, and farm bill policy advocacy.
  • Land Access Finding secure access to land is the number one barrier preventing a generation of farmers from entering the field. In this session, participants can share funding and policy opportunities that are amplifying the ability of farmers and farmers of color to make a living on the land and keep agricultural lands in production.
  • Overview of SAFSF’s Focus Areas – This session is for those who are new(er) to SAFSF and/or food and agriculture systems philanthropy. We’ll explore each of SAFSF’s focus areas: climate change, consolidation and concentration, and land access. We’ll walk through how each issue connects to other areas of the food, agriculture, and fiber system. Midway through the session, participants can join the conversation about another theme of their interest. Or, choose to stay in this session to informally get to know other peers. Either way, you’ll meet friendly faces to connect with throughout the rest of the Forum.

12:00 – 1:30 PM


1:30 – 3:00 PM

Opening Plenary & Setting the Theme

Looking Out from the Plains: Welcome to the Midwest

Sponsored by Missouri Foundation for Health

Kansas City straddles two Midwest states at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. It’s one of the “cradles of jazz” and the namesake of Kansas City-style barbeque. It was and is the traditional land and ancestral home of Native Americans, Indigenous, and First Nations peoples, including but not limited to the Kickapoo, Kansa, Osage, Otos, Missouri, Pottawatomie, Sioux, Shawnee, and Wyandot Tribes. 

Kansas City is home to the Animal Health Corridor, the globe’s single largest concentration of animal health interests. The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are newly headquartered here. Kansas City is also a gateway to the Midwest, one of the most important agricultural regions in the world. 

Our speakers will orient us to this region—a place they and many others call home. They will discuss how key issues like climate change, concentration and consolidation, and land access are affecting their communities. Their reflections will guide our learning over the next several days as we venture out on site visits throughout Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.


Elizabeth Burger, senior program officer, Sunflower Foundation, KS


Rhonda Perry, executive director, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, MO

Donna Pearson McClish, founder and ceo, Common Ground Producers and Growers, Inc., KS

Brett Ramey, climate resilience planner, Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, KS

3:00 – 3:30 PM

Break / Snacks / Find Your Workshop

3:30 – 5:00 PM

Concurrent Workshops

– Grounding in Community

Hosted by Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders

With everything that we, our communities and partners have been through or have been exposed to these past two year, when is the last time we took a moment to check-in with ourselves? 

In the spirit of the 2022 Forum theme of commitment and accountability to our visions, our partners, and our communities, we must not forget being committed and accountable to ourselves so that we may show up strong in our work and commitment to others. 

Tina Vasquez, founding partner of biwa | Emergent Equity, offers an opportunity to take that moment to acknowledge and reflect on our individual and collective experiences in an interactive artistic process. No particular skills are required and participants are invited to engage at the level that will best serve their needs. This will not be a discussion, but rather a space for sharing and witnessing. We invite you to show up just as you are. 

– An Emerging Model: How CDFIs are Leveraging Public and Private Support to Build Equitable Food Systems, Sustainable Businesses and Communities

Hosted by California FarmLink; Coastal Enterprises, Inc.; and New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

A handful of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are funneling resources into the development of sustainable food systems and farms. Established to address stark inequities and redlining in our financial system, CDFIs take on investments and grants in order to push capital into rural and low-income communities. With no shareholders, they are directly committed and accountable to their borrowers. During the pandemic, CDFIs were recognized for quickly directing resources to low-income communities and small businesses for economic recovery.

This session will feature four CDFIs that serve diverse communities, immigrants, and refugees. With public-private partnerships and creative capital stacks, they combine technical assistance, deep community knowledge, flexible financing, and grants. We will hear from a Native CDFI, programs facilitating land access, and early research supporting regenerative fiber production. CDFIs are leveraging and influencing public funding, including new USDA climate change programs. Now is the time to build a strong national network of CDFIs to transform our food and fiber systems. We need your input and engagement!


Skya Ducheneaux, executive director, Akiptan, SD


Reggie Knox, CEO, California FarmLink, CA

Brigid Murray, vested for growth investor, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, NH

Gray Harris, senior vice president, food system strategies, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., ME

Session goals: 

  1. Increase knowledge of the CDFI model for the development of equitable and sustainable food and fiber systems.
  2. Learn how CDFIs are engaging with investors and philanthropy, to leverage public support (from the Treasury and USDA) and drive systemic change.
  3. Build support to strengthen a national network of CDFIs using integrated capital to transform food systems.

– Lessons Learned in Fighting COVID-19: Catalyzing Partnerships for Health Equity in Agricultural Communities 

Hosted by Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund

This workshop will explore how funders can catalyze partnerships among diverse community stakeholders in responding to crises. Speakers will share their experiences supporting national, state, and local efforts that are designed specifically to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmworkers and agricultural producers across the country.

Panelists include representatives of the National Center for Farmworker Health, which provides strategic advice to the CDC and support to farmworker service organizations;  a major agricultural employer, Reiter Affiliated Companies; and a small funder, the Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund, focused on pandemic response in farmworker communities. The discussion will be moderated by the president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation.

The panelists will provide concrete examples of how proactive partnerships that enhance farmworker community wellbeing are key to agricultural workforce sustainability. They will then go on to present a vision about how to build on partnership created during the pandemic to move further toward equity for farmworkers and their families.


Vanessa Bechtel, president and CEO, Ventura County Community Foundation, CA


Yissel Barajas, chief human resources office, Reiter Affiliated Companies, CA

Ed Kissam, co-trustee, Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund, CA

Matt Solberg, agricultural employer liaison, National Center for Farmworker Health, TX

Session goals: 

  1. Build funders’ awareness of the specific contributions partnerships between private sector agricultural employers, community-based organizations, and local government can make in confronting even mega-crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Identify pressure points where funders involvement can lead to sustainable, “broad-spectrum” initiatives in agricultural communities in order to confront problems and enhance community economic, civic, and health system sustainability.
  3. Provide insights into the dynamics (challenges, opportunities, strategies) for building partnerships to improve the health and well-being of agricultural workers, their families, and neighbors in agricultural communities.

– Rural Resilience in a Changing Climate

Hosted by Walton Family Foundation

This session will explore how agriculture can help mitigate climate risk and improve resilience for communities and farmers in the Midwest. Climate change means rainfall patterns are changing and rainfall intensity is increasing in the Midwest. This exacerbates current challenges with water quality and flooding in the region. Agricultural conservation practices can help address these challenges.

Speakers will discuss how farmers and communities are working together to advance conservation practices that improve resilience to climate change, connecting practical examples to enabling policies. The panel will explore on-farm and downstream benefits of conservation practices. Panelists will discuss how agriculture and communities are inextricably linked.

The session will include a hands-on opportunity to assess different soil types and how they perform in extreme weather events. This workshop will be of especial interest for participants on the following day’s site visit, Connecting Conservation Practice, Policy, and Climate Resilience.


Amy Saltzman, senior program officer, Walton Family Foundation, CO


Bartlett Durand, director, water quality partnerships, Sand County Foundation, WI

Kris Reynolds, midwest regional director, American Farmland Trust, IL

Sally Worley, executive director, Practical Farmers of Iowa, IA

Session goals: 

  1. Understand the linkage between conservation practices and reduced risk, on and off-farm. 
  2. Connect policy initiatives to practices on the ground, and learn how policy can support the growth of conservation.
  3. Provide space for funder attendees to better understand dynamics of Midwest agriculture and rural communities.

5:00 – 6:00 PM

Break or BIPOC Networking Space

Break: Connect with peers on a walk, catch up with emails, or head up to your room. Use this time to take care of yourself before dinner this evening.

BIPOC Networking Space: Any Forum participant who identifies as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color is invited to share a supportive and respectful space to foster connection and share experiences.

6:00 – 9:00 PM

Learning Dinners or Dinner on Your Own

Pre-registration is required for learning dinners. Length and location varies.

– Centering Racial Equity from the Inside Out

Sponsored by Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) 

Transformative racial equity work is messy, iterative, and ongoing. Especially in smaller organizations, it requires recognition from both Board and staff that this is not a “DIY” process – it requires disinterested facilitation and a willingness from both Board and staff to stay in the process, especially when it feels the most difficult.

Guided by the racial equity and organizational development consultants of Biwa|Emergent Equity, the SAFSF staff and Board are engaged in the challenging, vulnerable work of building organizational equity from the inside out, learning to engage in productive conflict, transparent communication, participatory decision making, and equitable practice of policies and procedures. Learn about our process and how it has led to greater clarity and capacity for change in our work, then engage in discussion with others about these processes within your own organizations and how to expand this work further within the SAFSF network. Space limited to 40 participants.


Jen Zuckerman, director of strategic initiatives, Duke World Food Policy Center, NC

Tina Vasquez, founding partner, Biwa|Emergent Equity, NC 

Additional SAFSF staff and board members

Dinner goals:

  1. Participants will understand the difference between informational racial equity training and transformational racial equity work.
  2.  Participants will know what SAFSF has done internally to prepare itself to help members and the network engage in more honest and authentic racial equity conversations and activities.
  3. Participants will be better prepared to help co-create racial equity learning and activities for the SAFSF network.

– How Midwest Organizers and Native American Tribes Are Building Power to Fight Corporate Consolidation and Domination

Sponsored by GRACE Communications Foundation and Sarah Vogel

This locally-sourced dinner is an opportunity to celebrate Midwestern leadership in challenging Big Ag and Big Oil and successes building just and sustainable food and energy alternatives. Corporate consolidation has been gaining national attention due to pandemic-related supply chain issues that have exposed the risks of consolidation. Signals from the Biden administration show an interest in boosting competition through investment, as well as increasing corporate accountability through regulatory measures, revealing an opening for action.

We’ll take stock of where we are and how we got here, and will hear from labor and farm organizers, tribal leaders engaged in legal fights to protect our water and unceded treaty land, and officials working to rebalance the scales of justice. Come raise a locally crafted libation and discuss the narrative, policy and regulatory levers, and organizing and coalition building that our speakers have employed, all over a meal provided by independent farmers. Space limited to 28 participants.


Tim Gibbons, communications director, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, MO


Jose Oliva, campaigns director, HEAL Food Alliance, IL

Janet Alkire, chairwoman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, SD

Scott Skokos,executive director, Dakota Resource Council, MO

Dinner goals:

  1. Connect with Midwestern organizers leading the resistance against corporate consolidation.
  2. Celebrate the successes of Midwestern leadership and learn from their experiences.
  3. Meet others working in this space and develop future collaborations in this arena.

– Liberating Investment in the Food and Farm Ecosystem

Sponsored by Panta Rhea Foundation, Ceres Trust, GRACE Communications Foundation

In this lively and intimate dinner, we’ll discuss how funders can take concrete action to ensure more just ways of giving and greater impact. This conversation builds on dialogue sparked by a July 2020 open letter by 17 food movement organizations to food funders in response to the COVID-19 crisis. In the wake of that letter, SAFSF hosted a two-part webinar series with representatives from the “Open Letter Group.” The initial signatories and additional movement organizations have been exploring how to move the work forward through a new movement-led fund called Liberating Investment in the Food & Farm Ecosystem (LIFE). 

This dinner will provide an opportunity for funders to learn more about LIFE and how funders can engage in more movement-led work. We’ll also talk more broadly about how to shift grantmaking towards greater equity, racial justice, and community participation and control. Space limited to 42 participants. Note: There will be a questionnaire to fill out beforehand for those who express interest in attending.


Krysten Aguilar, executive director, Castanea Fellowship, NM


Cicely Garrett, co-executive director – operations and development, National Black Food and Justice Alliance, GA

Candace Clark, resource organizing director, HEAL Food Alliance, IL

Helga Garza, executive director, Agri-Cultura Network, NM 

Dinner goals:

  1. Share an update from some of the grassroots leaders behind the new movement-led fund, Liberating Investment in the Food & Farm Ecosystem.
  2. Build relationships among funders and community partners who share a commitment to movement-led funding and learnings about greater equity in grantmaking approaches.
  3. Expose funders new to thinking about these approaches to grantmaking to a community of colleagues who they can learn from and be in relationship with going forward.

– Developing the Detroit Food Commons: It Takes a Village to Build an Integrated Capital Stack

Sponsored by W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

The Detroit Food Commons is an $18 million development designed to enhance the community health and build wealth for the predominantly Black community in Detroit.

The Detroit Food Commons is a hyper-local effort envisioned by the community. The financing of this project required extensive engagement of a variety of federal, state, and local public and private sector funders, the local financing ecosystem and partners that were new to food systems. Many similar efforts have had challenges in securing adequate financing that would not carry unreasonable debt. Funders have been resistant given perceptions of risk.

This powerful story, including the challenges and successes, will provide guidance for other funders to actively engage in financing community-driven equitable food systems. Our aim is to create a space for honest and generative conversation.


Sarida Scott, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MI


Malik Yakini, executive director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, MI

Oren Brandvain, senior project manager, Develop Detroit Inc., MI

Meredith E. Freeman, director, alignment and impact investing, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, MI

Dinner goals:

  1. Promote a community-led effort to develop an innovative complex that includes a co-op grocery, incubator kitchen, health food cafe, and community gathering space.
  2. Understand the processes and relationships required to engage multiple funding streams, including grants, loans, and collateral from a variety of sources including community members and institutions.
  3. Explore the role that private philanthropy can play to catalyze these efforts.

(OR) Dinner on Your Own

Use this time to meet with fellow attendees and make connections, or simply have a quiet night to reflect on the day’s learning. A list of nearby restaurants can be found in the Whova app. 

Tuesday, June 21

7:00 – 8:15 AM


7:30 – 8:15 AM

Find Your Bus

8:30 – 5:30 PM

Site Visits

Sponsored by Sunflower Foundation

Timing of tours varies. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and hat. Site visits happen rain or shine. Several tours involve walking through farmland or getting your hands dirty through interactive activities. Please dress appropriately! 

– Food Sovereignty and Health in Tribal Communities 

Native peoples have lived, and continue to live, in the Midwest. They have stewarded the land, soil, and communities for centuries. It’s time that we move beyond acknowledgement and into relationship with our neighbors and relatives. This tour will visit a variety of sites and leaders at two of the four federally recognized tribes in Kansas. The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska and the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation are both building strong and resilient food systems through holistic practices regenerating soil and environmental health and revitalizing the health of their Tribal members. 

First we’ll visit the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s reservation, where 4,445 Tribal members live on ~77,440 acres in Jackson County, Kansas. The Nation manages land and agricultural resources through tribal government departments and Prairie Band Ag, LLC. The Nation has an established orchard, bison program, garden program, hemp program, and bees and cattle program with many ideas for the future of sustainable agriculture. 

Later we’ll visit the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, made up of ~4,300 tribal members. Their ~12,038 acre reservation spans portions of Brown County (KS), Doniphan County (KS), and Richardson County (NE). The Nation owns ~6,000 acres of the reservation, with most of this land held in trust. Ioway Farms, an enterprise of the Nation, utilizes indigenous regenerative agriculture practices across 2,400 acres of row crop production and 2,500 acres of pasture. Ioway Farms is focused on food sovereignty, supporting soil health, and ensuring a healthier more vibrant landscape for future generations through large-scale food and feed production.  

This tour offers an incredible opportunity to learn about the Nations’ histories first-hand and see their practices in action. Participants will begin to build relationships with Tribal members, leaders, and fellow funders ready to engage and collaborate. It’s a tour not to be missed. This tour will include a significant amount of bus time (approximately 4.25 hours of drive time) and is limited to 35 people. 

– Connecting Conservation Practice, Policy, and Climate Resilience 

Farmers’ livelihoods and our global food system are intrinsically dependent on the weather. Unfortunately, as climate change drives more volatile weather patterns around the world, farmers are heavily impacted. In 2019, we saw firsthand the impacts of severe weather events on entire communities and farms in Southwest Iowa as they experienced widespread flooding following the bomb cyclone that hit Plains and Midwest states.

To mitigate this increasing risk, more farmers are building ecological diversity into their farm operations. Farmers are building resilience into their farm ecosystems by using a wide array of practices. These practices include planting cover crops and green manure crops; establishing prairie strips; rotationally grazing sheep and cattle; and more. These farms have healthier soil, a more consistent and cleaner supply of water, pests and weeds that are easier to manage, healthier wildlife populations, and ultimately farms that are better prepared for climate change. In our collective effort to build climate resilience, farmers are in the opportune position to be leaders.

On this tour, we’ll learn about some of these farming practices in Iowa. We’ll explore how farm ecosystem health not only improves the soil and water and helps mitigate climate change, but how it can help create healthier rural and urban communities as well. We’ll visit Seth Watkins’ farm in beautiful southwest Iowa where we will hear how he and the organizations he works with are prioritizing conservation and soil health. We’ll see a demonstration of how farming practices like no-till and cover crops help improve the soil and create cleaner water for those downstream. We’ll also learn how farmer-driven research, networking, and learning are being employed to help expand the adoption of best practices in soil stewardship. And lastly, we will explore the federal and state policy incentives and/or barriers that can help or hinder the adoption of such practices.​​ This tour will include a significant amount of bus time (approximately 4.25 hours of drive time) and is limited to 45 people.

– Farming Innovation on the Prairie

Tallgrass prairie once blanketed more than 170 million acres of North America, including large swaths of the Midwest. This landscape featured fertile soils and rich biodiversity, and was maintained by practices that included anthropogenic and natural fire. The vast majority of this ecosystem was transformed into agricultural land within a few generations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today, roughly 4% of this tallgrass prairie ecosystem remains, including in Kansas’ Flint Hills. 

On this tour, we’ll learn how several Kansas farmers, entrepreneurs, and researchers are innovating in this landscape. We’ll head west toward Lawrence, Kansas. Our hosts are regenerating prairie lands while generating income for themselves and their communities. Throughout the day, we’ll also talk about opportunities to link regenerative farmers to land access.

Our first stop will take us to a small-scale farm practicing rotational cattle grazing and working to restore prairie on a portion of the land. We’ll discuss how fire and grazing can restore ecosystems and improve species diversity, soil carbon storage, water quality, and animal and human health. We’ll learn about the emerging issue of agrivoltaics—using land for both agriculture and solar power generation. We’ll talk about how stakeholders in Douglas County are informing the development of policies that could keep land in perennial pasture and create jobs and infrastructure for agriculture across the Midwest. 

Our second stop will take us to a diversified farm that pivoted and expanded in response to COVID, launching a grocery business and processing kitchen. We’ll share a pizza lunch from their new agritourism venture. Over lunch, we’ll hear from stakeholders who will discuss opportunities to regenerate regional economies by investing in market distribution channels connecting frontline food innovators and consumers. 

We’ll round out the day by learning about the Land Institute’s research on perennial polycultures, ecological intensification, and native grasslands. This tour will have approximately 2.5 hours of drive time and will have limited space.

– Accessing Land, Livelihood, and Community through Urban Agriculture in Kansas City

Kansas City has a robust network of urban farms that are producing food, training future generations of farmers, and building community. This tour will take us to three urban farms in Kansas City, where we’ll connect with a variety of local producers and community leaders. 

We’ll learn how Kansas City organizations are growing farmers and communities by connecting beginning and long-term farmers. One of our host farms will share how they are passing knowledge between generations while farming intensively and developing the soil. They’ll talk about navigating knowledge transfer and cultural differences between generations. They’ll share how they are documenting land transfer, a process that for them is as much about being in relationship as it is about agriculture. We’ll also discuss how local farmers are experiencing and responding to a changing climate. 

Another host, a returning generation farmer, integrates art and agroecological agricultural practices. Their projects mobilize community members, artists of color, and farmers to build cultural and food sovereignty on a Black-owned and operated organic farm.

Throughout the day, we’ll discuss the challenges and opportunities of building community through urban agriculture, including the policies that can help and hinder this work. We’ll consider how to support innovative endeavors that are truly community-led for the long run. This tour will have the least amount of bus time (approximately 1.5 hours of drive time) and will be capped at 45 people.

– Funding Solutions to the Rural Grocery Crisis

Rural communities across the country have been facing a growing issue. Though they grow crops, many rural communities are losing their food retailers. According to a USDA report, “in rural and urban nonmetro counties, [the number of] grocery stores…declined from 1990 to 2015 while dollar stores and supercenters increased steadily.” 2009-2015 alone saw a 20% decrease in grocery, specialty food, and convenience stores in rural areas across the country. 

This tour will take us nearly 100 miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri to learn how communities in rural Allen County, Kansas are dealing with this issue. We will visit three independently owned rural grocery stores to learn about their challenges, opportunities, and resilience. We’ll spend time at a grocery store with a cooperative membership structure. Another store hosts a community gathering space and music venue in a town of 31. Another is a family-owned grocery and meat processor that opened in 2020, replacing another locally-owned market that had gone out of business several years before. 

Each store we’ll visit has worked hard to stay in business and serve their communities. The issues they’ve dealt with intensified during the pandemic, from high operating costs, to supply chain issues, to labor shortages, to slim profit margins. Operators will share how they are enhancing the vitality of their communities and improving access to healthy food options. We’ll also hear from other food systems stakeholders about how they are collaborating to nourish their communities. This tour will have a significant amount of bus time (approximately 4.25 hours of drive time) and will have limited space.

6:00 – 9:00 PM

Dinner Reception

Sponsored by HRK Foundation

Tonight’s dinner reception at the Kansas City Marriott will allow you to share stories and pictures from the day; connect with peers you haven’t yet visited with; or simply get some food, head to your room, and get some rest. No other programming tonight—just relax and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22

7:30 – 9:00 AM


9:00 – 10:00 AM

Plenary Discussion & Film Trailer Screening

Challenging Concentration: Large Farms, Processors, and Buyers––and Large Opportunities

Sponsored by Missouri Foundation for Health

Concentration and consolidation touch many aspects of the U.S. food, agriculture, and fiber system. A relatively small number of stakeholders exert outsized power over our food system–from seeds and fertilizers, to farmland ownership, to processing and manufacturing, and to buying, distributing, and retailing.

Our speakers will reflect on the scope and drivers of farmland consolidation and livestock, agribusiness, and food system concentration. They’ll highlight community- and systems-level opportunities for philanthropy to support alternatives. And, they’ll highlight policy levers that can contribute to a more diversified American food and farm system.

10:00 – 10:30 AM

Break / Snacks / Find Your Workshop

10:30 – 12:00 PM

Concurrent Workshops

– Learning from Case Studies: Integrated Capital and Collaboration for Land Projects with Farmers of Color

Hosted by Dirt Capital Partners with support from Manzanita Capital Collective

How can philanthropy engage in grantmaking and investing in ways that meet needs of communities of color, understand the need for and complexity around collaboration, and de-prioritize needs of funders/investors?

Join this session to discuss a case study in how this works in practice and ongoing lessons being learned. Kitchen Table Advisors, The People’s Land Fund, and Dirt Capital Partners partnered to acquire 170+ acres of organic farmland in order to transfer ownership to a group of Latino immigrant organic farmers at an affordable, accessible price. Leveraging an integrated capital stack of $3M in equity, $2M in grants, and $6.5M+ in no/low cost loans from 20+ parties, this collaboration is working through navigating shared leadership, power, funder/investor obstacles, infrastructure, and more.


Anthony Chang, partner, Manzanita Capital Collective, CA


David Mancera, director, Kitchen Table Advisors, CA

Jacob Israelow, managing director, Dirt Capital Partners, NY

Mariela Cedeño, collaborative member, People’s Land Fund, CA

Session goals: 

  1. Help funders/investors understand needs and challenges related to land access/ownership/stability for farmers of color, as well as the integrated capital and collaboration that can be leveraged to meet those needs.
  2. Help funders/investors understand how an integrated capital deal can work and come together, and the roles that funders/investors can play in making that happen.
  3. Help funders/investors understand the infrastructure that is needed, how their needs make things harder/easier, and how we can work together to achieve the impacts we want.

– Policy for Land Access

Hosted by Woodcock Foundation

Nearly half of U.S. farmland is expected to change hands in the coming two decades. Without winning equitable farm policy to manage this transition, we’ll risk losing the foundation for the food and fiber system our communities deserve. Land is the prerequisite for climate action and community resilience. Without aligning policy with an equitable system for land access, we’ll be limited by a real-estate market that promotes consolidation, exacerbates wealth inequality, and restricts new models of sustainable agriculture. This panel will feature farm organizations that are collaborating to re-imagine land policy and advance a transformative agenda in the 2023 farm bill. We’ll discuss the centrality of racial equity, how to unlock federal money for local and community land access, and philanthropy’s role in this critical advocacy moment.


Stacey Faella, executive director, Woodcock Foundation, NY


Holly Rippon-Butler, land campaign director, National Young Farmers Coalition, NY

Dãnia Davy, director of land retention and advocacy, Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Stephanie Morningstar, relationships and reciprocity co-director, Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, ON

Session goals: 

  1. Participants will understand the dynamic ecosystem of organizations collaborating in this space.
  2. Participants will understand opportunities for land policy change in the upcoming farm bill and leave with an understanding of how philanthropy can support this transformative work.
  3. Participants will connect in breakouts to share regional land access challenges and land policy interconnections with other priorities for sustainable food systems such as climate, racial equity, and food security.

– After the Big Freeze: How a Crisis Can Lead to Impactful Collaboration

Hosted by Farm Aid

When Winter Storm Uri locked Texas in a two-week deep freeze in February 2021, farmers scrambled to save their businesses. Ruined crops, dead animals, and closed markets devastated the state’s producers. Texas nonprofit organizations that focus on sustainable agriculture locked arms to raise funds, distribute information, and identify other sources of assistance for hundreds of affected farmers. That experience not only led to the distribution of $133,000 in aid, but a commitment from those nonprofits to build a system for broader resilience that will be in place before the next crisis hits. Two executive directors from organizations within that collaboration will explain how the intensity of a disaster may present challenges, but also offer opportunities for more impactful work and innovative outcomes.


Jennifer Fahy, communications director, Farm Aid, MA


Susie Marshall, executive director, GROW North Texas, TX

Judith McGeary, executive director, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, TX

Chaz Daughtry, owner, Sweetwater Farms HTX, TX

Session goals: 

  1. Share the idea that consistent work with grassroots organizations can lead to effective collaborations and increased responsiveness to stakeholders.
  2. Highlight a specific crisis response program, the challenges and advantages of organizing around a disaster, and the mutual trust needed for success.
  3. Share the concept that small farms need a disaster relief system in place that supports long-term viability, especially in the face of climate change.

– Dismantling the Green Revolution: Funder Solidarity with Global Movements for Agroecology and Food Sovereignty 

Hosted by The 11th Hour Project, Thousand Currents, and the Agroecology Fund

Corporate concentration in the U.S. food system undermines food producers, landworkers, rural communities, Indigenous peoples, and urban dwellers across the globe. In Africa in particular, American agribusiness expansion, together with that of European transnational giants, has led to increased use of chemical inputs, threatened local seed systems, entrenched monocultures, increased land dispossession, exacerbated hunger and poverty, and driven policy and legislative reforms that favor agroindustry. This perpetuates colonial power dynamics. 

U.S. philanthropy has underwritten the Green Revolution program that facilitates industry’s influence, and U.S. philanthropy can help undo it. Come to a conversation with U.S. funders and African food sovereignty leaders to learn more about what African movements really need from us to repair their food systems from the impacts of agribusiness and colonialism, and how we too can benefit from being better allies in the global fight for a sustainable, equitable food future.


Daniel Moss, co-executive director, Agroecology Fund, MA


Luam Kidane, director of global programs, Thousand Currents

David Otieno, secretary general, Kenyan Peasants League, Kenya

Mariama Sonko, president, We Are The Solution / Nous Sommes la Solution, Senegal

Session goals: 

  1. Participants understand how industrial agriculture is expanding in Africa, how grassroots movements are resisting it and amplifying agroecological food systems, and what the impact of U.S. funding is on both.
  2. Participants will explore how they can collaborate with peer funders to support African and global movements’ calls for divestment from industrial agriculture approaches and investment in agroecology.
  3. Participants will explore how their work to transform food systems benefits from connection to global movements engaged in similar work.

12:00 – 1:15 PM


1:15 – 1:30 PM

Find Your Workshop

1:30 – 3:00 PM

Concurrent Workshop

– Learning by Pitching: Improving Due Diligence for Food Systems Transformation

Sponsored by Thread Fund & Woodcock Foundation

The ideas we choose to support or not come down to our due diligence and the questions we ask. How can we strengthen due diligence, hold ourselves accountable, and make the most effective decisions about allocating scarce capital? In this session, participants will hear brief ‘pitches’ on innovative funds that are financing equitable and regenerative agriculture. The learning will be from each other as we ask questions and examine the potential impact and risks associated with each idea. We’ll also learn from the fund leaders who will share back learnings from their experience. 

With respect for the SAFSF Forum’s “no pitch” policy, leaders will be pitching on ideas for which they’ve already raised funds and deployed capital. The session will include case study elements through which we learn about outcomes, pivots, and next steps for the funds.


Tim Crosby, principal, Thread Fund, WA

Speakers – Fund Presenters: 

Lauren Grattan, co-founder and chief community officer, Mission Driven Finance, CA 

Philip Taylor, executive director and co-founder, Perennial Fund, CO 

Olivia Watkins, co-founder and president, Black Farmer Fund, NY

Speakers – Panel Experts:

Skya Ducheneaux, executive director, Akiptan CDFI, SD

Stacey Faella, executive director, Woodcock Foundation, NY

Mark Watson, president, Potlikker Capital, MA

Session goals: 

  1. Learn together, with those with programmatic expertise, to ask a holistic set of questions that we should all be asking as we make investment decisions.
  2. Learn by doing what types of innovative financing can help us build the food systems that we need in our world.
  3. Connect with other investors seeking better ways to determine impact accountability.

– Creating, Celebrating, and Elevating Community Food Systems in Minnesota and Mississippi 

Hosted by West Central Initiative and W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Minnesota and Mississippi are two states where local people are doing unique work around building resilient, just, equitable, and sustainable agriculture and food systems. In this session, you will hear from the organizers and leaders of each of these communities as they share their origin stories and stories of cultural and systems change. 

Region-specific breakout groups will focus on the role of values-aligned relationship building as key to equity and justice centered change work to impact agricultural and food systems in the regions. The collaborations are key to supporting leadership, engaging institutional partners, creating networks of learning circles, providing technical assistance opportunities, building infrastructure, and leveraging state and federal funding.


Kathryn Parker, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, LA

Speakers – Fund Presenters: 

Noel Didla, chair, Mississippi Food Policy Council, MS

Dawn Finn, executive director, Community & Life Services, MN

Emily Reno, community planner, West Central Initiative, MN

Session goals: 

  1. Learn together, with those with programmatic expertise, to ask a holistic set of questions that we should all be asking as we make investment decisions.
  2. Learn by doing what types of innovative financing can help us build the food systems that we need in our world.
  3. Connect with other investors seeking better ways to determine impact accountability.

– The Facts Do Matter: Using Evidence-Based Information in Funding Decisions

Hosted by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Knowledge gaps in local and regional food systems work result in wasted resources that diminish progress in the food movement. The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) helps practitioners, funders, and other decision-makers learn from past grant-funded work to build on successes and avoid known pitfalls. In this session, three JAFSCD authors will share findings from their peer-reviewed work. They’ll make the case that evidence-based decision-making is critical to the advancement of equity and the accountable use of data for funders.

Case Study #1 – An examination of how Indigenous cultures’ millenia of building Indigenous knowledge is useful in building resilient food systems today.

Case Study #2 – A look at the shortcomings of food hub development before analyzing economic data on how they should be structured.

Case Study #3 – The uncovering of USDA inflating numbers of Black farmers benefiting from its programs.


Fallys Masambuka-Kanchewa, assistant professor, agricultural education and studies, Iowa State University, IA


Lesli Hoey, associate professor of urban and regional planning, University of Michigan, MI

Michael Kotutwa Johnson, extension specialist, University of Arizona, AZ

Tracy Lloyd McCurty, executive director, Black Belt Justice Center, DC

Session goals: 

  1. Increase the use of peer-reviewed research and practitioner knowledge by foundation staff, administrators, and their grantees that will lead to better decision-making
  2. Gather ideas from participants about what program-related factual evidence would be useful in their work to select and support grantees
  3. Share examples of how factual evidence is critical to philanthropy in the food systems space and provide participants with specific strategies for engaging with community-based research.

– The Midwest: Where Climate and Equity Meet, Clash, and Transform

Hosted by Fresh Taste and Regenerative Agriculture Foundation

The Midwest is where climate and equity come together in both collision and solution. If carbon is sequestered in soils at scale, it will happen east of the 100th meridian on acres currently dominated by row crop agriculture. If equity in agriculture is to be meaningful, it will happen here as well by supporting BIPOC farmers’ efforts to incorporate continuous living cover (CLC). 

CLC farm systems build from traditional ecological knowledge and create human and ecological resilience by reintegrating plants and animals on the land and centering community benefit. CLC faces significant barriers that Tribes, community partners, and land grant universities are working to overcome together. We will focus on the people seeking to implement CLC cropping systems and the framework it provides to advance equity and justice.


Mark Muller, executive director, Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, MN

Karen Lehman, director, Fresh Taste, IL 


Emily Heaton, Professor of Crop Sciences, Director, Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, IL

Britt Moore, assistant professor of environmental protection, University of North Carolina Wilmington & Collaborator with Green Lands Blue Waters, NC

Session goals: 

  1. Attendees will understand the critical landscape-level problems with the current agricultural systems dominating the Midwest, including devastating environmental impacts and historically entrenched inequities. They’ll also see pathways to different agricultural solutions.
  2. Participants will understand how collaboration between universities and community partners is essential to leverage resources—particularly new climate programs through USDA—that advance BIPOC community priorities. Philanthropy is key to facilitating this collaboration.
  3. Funders will see how pairing large impact/small change shifts in commodity agriculture with community-rooted, often traditional practices can deepen and scale critical work. Racial equity is essential to agricultural transformation.

3:00 – 3:15 PM


3:15 – 4:30 PM

Closing Plenary & Final Remarks

Write Back or Get Written Out

Hosted by SAFSF and Food and Farm Communications Fund; Sponsored by Missouri Foundation for Health

Mainstream food media is a largely white-controlled and culturally-homogenous landscape. This means the accompanying narratives about food culture and justice are shaped by a predominantly white lens. Join us in a conversation with two renowned chefs and activists who are changing this. By crafting forward-thinking media projects, they uplift underexplored stories and cultural connections for Black and Indigenous communities by Black and Indigenous media-makers. 

This plenary will examine why it is so vital to have food media platforms that speak directly to BIPOC communities, and the power of this media to shape beliefs, inspire empathy and collective action, and give rise to a different world. It will also explore the critical role of philanthropy in seeding and sustaining these efforts to revolutionize the food media landscape.


Esperanza Pallana, executive director, Food & Farm Communications Fund, CA


Kristina Stanley, food & culinary program coordinator, Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, WI 

Shakirah Simley, executive director, Booker T Washington Community Service Center, California

Reem Assil, chef, restaurateur, labor organizer, Reems California

Thérèse Nelson, founder, chef, writer, podcast host, Black Culinary History, NY

Session goals: 

  1. Share examples of the difference made when Black and Indigenous voices are at the forefront of food system transformation.
  2. Share effective strategies and opportunities to engage in revolutionizing the food media landscape.
  3. Share three steps funders can take to seed and sustain food media platforms for BIPOC communities by BIPOC media-makers.

4:30 – 5:30 PM

Closing Snacks & See-You-Laters