root report

COVID-19: Increasing Queer Visibility in Farming

WhyHunger has been in touch with our partners across the country and the globe to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their communities and what they’re doing to help. What we’ve heard has been both heartbreaking and inspiring—further demonstrating the critical role of grassroots organizations as first responders in their communities. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of these partners in our Root Report series.

Hunger is a persistent issue in the LGBTQI+ community. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 27% of U.S. adults who identify as LGBTQI+ experienced hunger each year. Now, the economic shutdown has sent unemployment rates soaring along with the need for food. When the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not enough, those who need to feed their families turn to emergency food providers. But some food banks and pantries have denied food and services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Amid great need and entrenched discrimination, LGBTQI+ community leaders and organizations are working to nourish people with healthy food and create a more just food system not just for queer communities but for everyone.

Rock Steady Farm & Flowers is one of them.

A queer- and women-owned cooperative in Millerton, New York, Rock Steady uses sustainable farming methods to provide fresh food to their community through a 375-person CSA and wholesale to food pantries, nonprofits and local restaurants. They also partner with LGBTQI+ resource centers across New York to increase healthy food access for queer youth and educate them about agriculture.

Rock Steady Farm believes that high-quality food is a human right and supporting food access and social justice is central to their business. They have a Food Access Fund which helps provide free and subsidized fresh vegetables to their community, including seniors, BIPOC neighborhoods left out of the local food movement, families with young children, and people living with chronic illnesses like HIV, cancer, and diabetes. They also offer sliding scale pricing on their produce, which allows people to choose what they pay based on their income. An incredible 50% of their sales directly benefit low-income families across the state.

Rock Steady’s work is powerful. Last year, these farmers fed over 800 individuals and children struggling to make ends meet. In the last four years, they’ve distributed 35,000 meals to their communities. Since opening, they have run their farm cooperatively, providing living wages that acknowledge the value and importance of farm labor and striving to create economic security for every worker. Rock Steady is also deeply committed to queer visibility, advocating for LGBTQI+ rights on and off the farm.

With the onset of COVID-19, Rock Steady Farm & Flowers remains committed to nourishing their community with fresh food during these challenging times. They’ve developed strict protocols to ensure the safety of their team and their customers, including working six feet apart, wearing masks, requiring frequent handwashing, and providing sick leave for workers who feel ill. Portable hand-washing stations have been created for harvesting vegetables, and all tools, vehicles, and office spaces are sanitized at the end of each workday. Many of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes are now pre-boxed to increase safety for at-risk customers.

Rock Steady is a prime example of the incredible impact farms can have when they are passionate, supported, and safe. A home, a community, a trailblazing organization: Rock Steady Farm & Flowers.

Rock Steady Farm and Flowers

The Root Report is a service provided by WhyHunger to inform, educate and amplify community-based solutions to hunger.

WhyHunger believes a world without hunger is possible. For more than 40 years, we have been providing critical resources to support grassroots movements and fuel community solutions rooted in social, environmental, racial and economic justice. We are working to end hunger and advance human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world.


Photo credit: Rock Steady Farm and Flowers Facebook page.

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