AIM’s Path to Racial Equity

From Andy Naja-Riese, AIM CEO – In partnership with AIM’s Board of Directors, we have developed and published our Path to Racial Equity where we can contribute to creating an equitable food and farming system. Racial equity is the fair treatment of people of all races. We will achieve racial equity in the food and farming system when systemic racism does not exist in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of good food. Racial equity requires that we prioritize the allocation of resources, decision making and power to those who have been most impacted by the injustice of our current food and farming system, specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) producers and when every person, regardless of race, has what they need to thrive.

We see a future where BIPOC producers are no longer marginalized, considered unimportant, or are oftentimes non-existent at farmers markets. We must ensure farmers markets and food programs provide a culturally relevant platform for BIPOC producers, and we must work to develop and open new opportunities whenever possible so BIPOC farmers and business owners can continue to build wealth and capital. Our equity commitments are especially critical to Oakland’s Grand Lake Farmers Market. We are actively working to increase underrepresented farmers and producers by doing ongoing outreach and relationship-building and redesigning internal procedures to make sure the markets are accessible to all.

You can read a full copy of AIM’s Path to Racial Equity, where we first look inward as an organization and create a space for interrogation, open dialogues, and continuous feedback loops. The changes we make within AIM can then have a broad impact in how we cultivate and grow our external network of producers, partners, and shoppers across California. Please share your comments, suggestions, and ideas on our Racial Equity work directly to me e-mail at andy@agriculturalinstitute.org. Thank you and have a happy and healthy 2021!

Andy Naja-Riese brings 15 years’ experience in community food systems, health policy, and education. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM), a California 501c3 non-profit that works to educate, inspire, and connect communities with responsible farmers and producers as part of a healthy, earth-friendly, equitable local and regional food system. Andy directs AIM’s operations, fundraising, and strategic planning through the operation of 8 certified farmers markets, mobile market, farm box program, and educational and food access initiatives.  Andy brings a unique perspective to non-profit executive management after spending 10 years with the Federal government, including managing programs and grants with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Andy received his Master’s degree in Society, Human Development, and Health from the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health and his Bachelor’s degree in Community, Environment, Science, and Health from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Andy is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and lives in San Rafael with his husband, Gary, and their rescue dog, Mac.