Social Equity

When Food


Social impact

For more than 40 years, Oregon Tilth’s mission has been to “support and promote biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture.” In early 2016, Oregon Tilth formed a Social Equity Committee. The group looked to build on program achievements and undertake the process of organizing and reorganizing decades of information and ideas.

It’s been a messy and clumsy job.

But our determination to continue only deepened. We’re focused on improving the extent to which equity is an everyday part of Tilth life. We’re examining our culture, services, and programs to develop closer ties to our mission’s intent to serve all communities.

There will be questions. We will confront our prejudices and presumptions; we’ll need to be reminded to be good listeners. There will be relationship-building and engagement; there will be discomfort and emotions. And throughout our pursuit, we will strive to implant equity into the blood, bones, and spirit of Oregon Tilth.

The Food Project
Oregon Tilth 2017-18 SIP awardee, The Food Project in Boston, Mass. Photo by Angela Stevens/Juniper Studios

Social Investment Project

Oregon Tilth’s Social Investment Project (SIP) partners with organizations, groups, and communities that are committed equity in agriculture. We provide capacity building and program support funds to groups that focus engagement on:

  • The historically underserved in the agricultural community (e.g., for reasons of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, education, class status, military affiliation)
  • Farm labor/worker communities (e.g., safety, human rights, and public health for farm workers)
  • Those without access to farm ownership opportunities (e.g., disadvantaged beginning farmer groups including, but not limited to, minorities, immigrants, and women)
  • Other topic areas or communities involved with improving socially equitable agriculture

2018-2019 SIP Awardees

A Growing Culture |
A Growing Culture believes a sovereign food system requires leveraging local innovations and supporting free, open, and appropriate channels for sharing between farmers and their allies. The organization works to harness and document local and traditional knowledge through participatory and farmer-centric approaches. By prioritizing farmer-led initiatives in realms of research, development, and locally-led change, A Growing Culture reinforces farming communities as engaged problem solvers and knowledge managers, not passive recipients.

Fresh Rx |
Fresh Prescription is a fruit and vegetable prescription program that brings together the healthcare system and the food system, fostering innovative relationships to build a healthy sustainable food system in Detroit, Michigan. This promising approach to a healthier food system connects patients to fresh, locally-grown produce while providing direct economic benefits to small and midsize farmers. The program’s vision is to grow into a city-wide network of partnering health centers, local food retailers (farmers markets, farmers, mobile markets, etc.) and community partners working together to provide fresh, local fruits and vegetables to patients and critical support programming and services like nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, health coaching and more.

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) |
Since 1985, PCUN has advocated for Oregon farmworkers and working Latino families, working tirelessly to empower these communities to understand and take action against systematic exploitation and its harmful effects. The organization supports farmworkers through summits focused on sexual harassment and training peer-to-peer farmworker networks. PCUN’s model focuses on workplace health projects to build a strong and empowered base of farmworkers and immigrant workers.

International Community Foundation |
The International Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization, which seeks to inspire international charitable giving by U.S. donors, with a focus on Northwest Mexico, to strengthen civil society and promote sustainable communities. The organization is building on its initiative to get fresh and locally-available food into the hands of the most food insecure communities. The food rescue program salvages a considerable percentage of locally-produced food, often certified organic, that is left to rot or disposed of because it fails to meet export standards.

Multinational Exchange For Sustainable Agriculture |
Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) connects sustainable farming leaders around the world for participatory training and cross-cultural exchange to strengthen local, resilient food systems worldwide. Since 1997, MESA has connected over 1500 farmers, activists, and advocates and helped start nearly 250 small-scale farms and food justice projects worldwide. Training programs focus on ecological production practices, processing, direct marketing, community organizing and education, and organic crop research and breeding.

2017-2018 SIP Awardees

The Food Project |
Multinational Exchange For Sustainable Agriculture |
Agricultural Justice Project |
International Community Foundation |