SLEE 2022 Keynote by Black Star Farmers

“Reclaiming Food Sovereignty and Reconnecting to Indigenous Ways of Life”

Keynote speakers: Marcus Henderson, Derrick McDonald, Orian Grant & Cactus

Black Star Farmers is dedicated to creating radical, joyful, and supportive space for communities to reclaim their ancestral foodways. Born out of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) during the 2020 George Floyd uprising, today they steward several gardens in Seattle, on occupied Duwamish and Coast Salish territory. They are committed to facilitating difficult conversations about race, anti colonialism, anti capitalism, and the abolition of all oppressive systems especially as it relates to BIPOC communities.

Black Star Farmers is actively building a world where mutual aid, collective decision making, mental wellness, conflict awareness, and direct action exist at the center of their practice. This necessitates navigating challenges while remaining steadfast in their commitment to working towards food and land justice. Their multigenerational collective includes people of a multitude of identities including Black, Indigenous, Asian, Euro descendant race traitors, multiracial people, queers, trans people, and women.

Marcus Henderson from Black Star Farmers under a tend canopy, holding a sprouting plant, smiling and wearing a black hoodie.Marcus Henderson graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Energy Resources Engineering but quickly pivoted into working on developing the skills needed to support a low-energy intentional agrarian community outside of the current capitalist paradigm. This search for intentional ways of living led Marcus all over the world. Most notably, Marcus spent time in the Caribbean learning how to survive off the land from peoples committed to living outside of the system. They then made their way to Moab, UT where they learned natural building techniques while building low-income housing. Soon after arriving in Seattle, the uprising occurred and Marcus found a home amongst Black Star Farmers to continue developing skills and build community.

Derrick McDonald from Black Star Farmers smiling and wearing a white shirt.

Derrick McDonald is a Black designer and researcher intent on imagining, making, and maintaining safe and affirming worlds in deep connection with community and the Land. As a member of the Space Matters cohort, they have contributed to the development of a critical race spatial praxis and practice uncovering, understanding, and exercising Black and Indigenous knowledge in their daily work. Free the Land, free the peoples.

Orian Grant from Back Star Farmers smiling and wearing a red-and-white plaid long-sleeve shirt.Orian Grant is an organizer for BSF who often leads outreach and engagement with our partner organizations. Raised in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, their experiences have brought them close to youth, adults and elders of all backgrounds from the Puget Sound watershed. These small conversations with community are what motivate Orian to continue to learn and share their experiences and knowledge.

Their focus over the next two years with BSF will be to coordinate the Rainier Valley Water Resiliency program, and develop programming focused on nearshore environmental education for BIPOC youth.

Cactus from Black Star Farmers sitting with vegetables in lap, holding a squash in front of face.Cactus will be speaking about the fundamental issues involved in reclaiming food sovereignty and reconnecting to indigenous ways of life. A severe look at the legacies of colonialism and the challenges involved in moving forward.

More about Marcus Henderson and Black Star Farmers