Issues & Ideas: Cultivating a more diverse EcoFarm

Feb 22, 2020

Why aren’t there more people of color and women at agriculture conferences? One organization is actively working to change the demographics of both presenters and attendees—and workshop topics—at what's considered the oldest and largest organic farming conference in the West.

The Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm) is a nonprofit group with the mission to “nurture safe, healthy, just, and ecologically sustainable farms, food systems, and communities by bringing people together for education, alliance building, advocacy, and celebration.” It provides resources to farmers, hosts an ag job board, and every year, the nonprofit puts on three main events, including the EcoFarm Conference

This year EcoFarm celebrated its 40th annual convening of farmers, educators, and eaters. Over the past few years, EcoFarm has focused on welcoming more diverse voices as conference presenters, session topics, and audience members. To achieve this, the association created a diversity advisory group (DAG). Click here to learn about the DAG’s efforts, and to see a listing of the diversity and equity-related sessions and discussions presented at recent EcoFarm conferences. From 2015 to this year, the number quadrupled.

KCBX’s Rachel Duchak attended the 2020 EcoFarm Conference in Pacific Grove and interviewed two DAG members—Amy Wu and Peter Ruddock—and EcoFarm executive director Andy Fisher, about the successes and pitfalls of trying to foster more diversity and inclusion in U.S. agriculture.