The Castanea Fellowship announced their 2019 fellowship cohort, identifying rising leaders in an equitable future. The 12 Castanea Fellows will spend two years exploring connections to transform food into a source of health, equity, and well-being.
The inaugural fellow class includes rural, urban, and tribal leaders committed to working across sectors for a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system. Upon receiving the Castanea Fellowship’s US$40,000 award honoring their leadership, each fellow will begin a program in June to amplify the power of their leadership, advocacy, and transformational work.
“They are a generative group that symbolizes the bold, thoughtful, and caring leadership we will need to bring about a more just food system we know is possible,” says Castanea Fellowship Executive Director Farzana Serang.
Of the group of innovative individuals, 92 percent are people of color, a majority are women-identifying, and all have significantly contributed to their communities. Fellows range in topic and expertise, from Lilian Hill, the Executive Director of the Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute who creates Indigenous-led organizations to address economic colonization and inequality; to Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director of Brooklyn Movement Center, who wants to unite producers, distributors, and farmers across New York state.
Other 2019 fellows include Aileen Suzara, Founder and Manager of Sariwa, who highlights the role of Filipino food in physical and environmental health; and Martin Lemos, Interim Executive Director and Deputy Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, who wants to reshape the national conversation about agriculture to build supportive communities. Fellow Eduardo Rivera, Farmer and Owner Operator of Sin Fronteras Farm & Food, seeks to reduce barriers for farmers of color and increase access to food in Minneapolis.
The Castanea Fellowship is made up of a Steering Committee that includes Scott Cullen, GRACE Communications; Haile Johnston, Common Market; Navina Khanna, HEAL Food Alliance; Anna Lappé, Panta Rhea Foundation; Mark Muller, McKnight Foundation; Brett Ramey, Doris Duke Conservation Scholars; Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists; and Kolu Zigbi, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. The Steering Committee started the Castanea Fellowship inspired by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Community Fellowship Program (2001–2013), which joined fellows to create community-based programs improving access to healthy, sustainably grown, and fair food.
“The transformational work needed to fix our food system cannot be achieved in isolation. That’s one reason we are thrilled that this fellowship will bring leaders together—to more effectively address the complexity of food system change,” says Lappé.
Photo courtesy of the Castanea Fellowship.