Edgar (left) and Ramon (right) share their learning process with growing nopales in Washington state.
Photo Credit: Mikhaila Gonzales
Blog post by Mikhaila Gonzales, Spark Northwest
Sweating after a few moments in their greenhouse, Mia, Quest and I, together with members of Community Alliance for Global Justice, listened as Ramon Torres, founding member of Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad, and Edgar Franks, political director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, described their experimental runs of nopales and dragonfruit.
One row of dragonfruit with signs of sunburn, the next row dark green, with new growth evidently appreciating the protection of shade cloth placed carefully at the peak of the sun’s path. At Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad, member-owners are creating a world in which farmworkers own the land and resources to sustain their families and livelihoods. These trials play a part in their vision for a food system that cherishes people’s health, labor and culture.
In line with their vision, the farm now generates enough solar energy to power its own electrical needs — one more resource for T&L members to continue building a new model for community ownership and self-determination. It is always a special opportunity to visit the solar projects we have supported, and our trip was a humbling reminder of what is truly at stake.
In more ways than I can fathom, farmworkers put their lives on the line in order to put food on our tables, not only under duress of deadly working conditions and socioeconomic hardship, but also through the creativity and courage to fight for a better way. As the Cooperativa’s member owners work towards justice in our food system, I’m left churning over how much further we have to go, as clean energy practitioners and advocates, to build an energy system that truly cherishes people’s health, labor and culture.
➤ Learn about the origins of La Cooperativa here.
➤ Learn about the lives of the people who make sure we have fresh produce, including Familias Unidas por la Justicia‘s Marciano Sanchez and Xolotl Edgar Franx, in the latest episode of Nia Tero’s #Seedcast podcast here.
Mikhaila is a project manager at Spark Northwest, where has led the Access Solar program at Spark Northwest since January 2017. While mastering the business side of solar energy development, she has developed partnerships with Seattle City Light, Kitsap Bank, Washington State Housing Finance Commission, and has cultivated mutually accountable relationships with Emerald Cities, Byrd Barr Place and ECOSS. She also supports Solar Plus State Energy Strategy work across Oregon and Washington, and is driven to find energy solutions that work for local communities hit first and worst by climate impacts.