Announcing the Viviane Barnett Food System Fellows

Release Date: 06-30-2021

Doe Hatfield

Communications Director*
503.467.0808



Sixteen leaders of color selected for contributions, potential in food systems change

PORTLAND, Ore.,—June 30, 2021—Who leads the work to create a more equitable and resilient food system matters. The Viviane Barnett Fellowship for Food System Leadership (Fellowship) announces its inaugural cohort, a racially and experientially diverse group of 16 Oregonians selected for their passion and interest in food systems transformation. Over the 18 months of the program, the Fellows will build community and share skills while working on projects that promote restorative growing practices, community empowerment, food sovereignty, land and water stewardship, and climate justice. 

The newly selected Viviane Barnett Food Systems Fellows (Fellows) represent a range of aspiring, emerging, and experienced food systems leaders who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and multiracial. The experiences and interests present in the group span from farming, food production, food security, community organizing, climate justice, creative arts, resistance and liberation, cultural and ancestral reclamation, and healing. In both their work and their fellowship applications, Fellows expressed a strong desire in learning and giving back to others.

“Centering the experiences of leaders of color is essential to building a more racially equitable and climate resilient food system,” says Aaron Vargas, Food Equity Manager at Ecotrust. “The Viviane Barnett Food Systems Fellows are reaching towards our collective lived experiences to come together to co-create new opportunities in support of transforming our food and farming systems.” 

The 2021 Viviane Barnett Food Systems Fellows are Alisha Howard, Alma Gaeta, Antonio Zamora, Ari Mwachofi, Arunima Jamwal, Bea Yeh Ogden, Charlotte Epps, Esperanza Spalding, Herbert Young, Insa Evans, Jackie Leung, joemil r. santos, Michelle Week, Mick Rose, Punneh Abdolhosseini, and Sasha Gilbert. Explore biographies for each of the Fellows on our website and on Ecotrust’s Instagram. 

The Viviane Barnett Fellowship for Food System Leadership is offered through a partnership between Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Mudbone Grown, Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms, the Multnomah County Health Department REACH program, and Ecotrust. The group selected this inaugural group of Fellows from a pool of more than 57 applicants. Over time, the Fellowship envisions a network of support and growing pathways for food systems leaders of color whose lived experiences are essential to collective efforts to build a more equitable, regenerative, and climate resilient food system. 

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About the Viviane Barnett Food System Fellowship

The Viviane Barnett Fellowship for Food System Leaders is a program designed to build the capacity of experienced and aspiring food system leaders of color in Oregon. Named after Viviane Barnett, a Black Portlander and civic leader who spearheaded a groundbreaking community gardening movement from 1968-1970, the Fellowship aims to support and develop leaders whose lived experiences reflect the communities they serve. The Fellowship launched in early 2021 and is offered through a partnership between the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Mudbone Grown, Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms, the Multnomah County Health Department REACH program, and Ecotrust. Ultimately, the Fellowship seeks to build pathways for food systems leaders of color whose lived experiences are essential to collective efforts to build a more equitable, regenerative, and climate resilient food system, while increasing access to nutritious, affordable foods for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. Learn more at https://ecotrust.org/project/viviane-barnett-fellowship-for-food-system-leaders/