Ma Da Dil will be the first BIPOC farm on the San Francisco Peninsula under local Indigenous leadership
Submitted by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
On 38 acres of San Gregorio farmland that POST conserved in February 2020, ARO and its farming collaborators - the Deep Medicine Circle, Luna Vez Farm and Top Leaf Farms - will partner together to care for Indigenous and other marginalized communities through food production practices that simultaneously benefit personal health, ecological health and social relations, while liberating food from the market economy.
The farmland is located in San Gregorio, near the intersection of Highways 1 and 84 (see map below) in San Mateo County. In October 2020, POST issued a request for proposals (RFP) and received 28 applications that represented a highly diverse group of qualified farmers. Applicants included numerous individuals and groups from communities that historically have been underrepresented in farming, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color), LGBTQ+ and women farmers. The group is calling the farmland Ma Da Dil, which means “Mother Heart” in Punjabi.
“POST has long been committed to sustaining the agricultural legacy of San Mateo County. We consider today’s announcement an important step in our long process of learning. It is an evolution of our conservation relationships and farming models,” said Walter T. Moore, president of POST. “We acknowledge the great injustices committed to Indigenous peoples by early white settlers and perpetuated through societal practices since then. Today, we also are affirming the deeply held values we share with the ARO and their collaborators to ensure a healthy and balanced future for these lands.”
The Ramaytush Ohlone are the Indigenous peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. “Our primary responsibilities are to care for all of nature and for the people who reside in our ancestral homeland,” said Dr. Jonathan Cordero, chair of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone. “The work at Ma Da Dil will focus on healing.”
The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone is partnering with the Deep Medicine Circle (DMC). Co-founded by UCSF’s Dr. Rupa Marya and ecological farmer Benjamin Fahrer, DMC is a local nonprofit of farmers and healers focused on advancing a culture of care. Under the leadership of ARO, the Deep Medicine Circle will create an agroecological model - the “Farming Is Medicine” initiative - to reimagine local food security along the axes of climate, racial, health and economic justice. Ma Da Dil, will provide free healthy organic produce to BIPOC and other marginalized communities in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Tarun Marya, of Luna Vez Farm, will serve as Ma Da Dil’s farm director, and Sofia Pablo-Hoshino will be the internship and volunteer coordinator.
"Hunger is engineered by systems of oppression. Poor people have the least access to the healthiest foods that can support their immunity and well-being. The COVID pandemic has laid bare the burden of poor health on BIPOC communities. It is time to engineer things in another way," said Dr. Marya, associate professor of medicine at UCSF and executive director of Deep Medicine Circle. “Healing the people will happen in tandem with healing the ecosystems.” The groups will partner with POST and other local and national conservation groups in ongoing work to restore the health of the San Gregorio Creek and to reintroduce native species, such as the Coho salmon.
Conserving this land was part of POST’s continuing effort to reverse the trend of disappearing farmland on the San Mateo Coast through a combination of land acquisition, legal land protection and strategic investments in infrastructure. POST believes that sustainable and environmentally responsible farming is good for the land and contributes to the vitality of local communities. The selection of ARO and its collaborators for this site advances these values. Since POST’s farmland work ramped up in 2015, POST has conserved nine farms and seven ranches, totaling 1,858 acres; completed three farmworker housing projects with two more in progress, with capacity for 34 workers and family members; and made a variety of farm infrastructure improvements, from barn repair to reservoir construction, across the area.
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About the Peninsula Open Space Trust
POST protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. As a private nonprofit land trust, POST has been responsible for conserving more than 80,000 acres since its founding in 1977. POST works with private landowners and public agencies to create a network of protected lands so that present and future generations may benefit from the careful balance of rural and urban landscapes that makes our region extraordinary. Visit openspacetrust.org for more information.
About Association of the Ramaytush Ohlone
The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone (ARO) represents the interests of the original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. The purposes of the ARO include the rematriation of land, cultural revitalization, ecological restoration and community service. The ARO partners with other organizations and agencies to restore the health of the earth, to serve marginalized communities, and to pursue peace and justice for all peoples.
About Deep Medicine Circle
The Deep Medicine Circle is a BIPOC-led nonprofit organization dedicated to repairing critical relationships that have been fractured through colonialism. Starting from a place of correcting relationships between settlers and Indigenous people, they cultivate a culture of care to support health and healing of people, communities of plants and animals, and the Earth, which are critical for our survival and thriving.
They are a collective of farmers, physicians, natural healers, herbalists, ecological designers, scholars, political ecologists, educators, storytellers and artists. They adhere to earth-based, Indigenous ecofeminist principles of organizing, with participatory governance structures and circles of decision-making. They understand the existential threat of climate change as the end-stage of the colonial capitalist project and innovate structural solutions based in cosmologies that can heal ruptured relationships to the web of life. They prioritize our Indigenous communities in their processes of healing, through supporting efforts in rematriation, land back, uplifting Indigenous sovereignty and advancing decolonizing methodologies in scholarship and practice. They create opportunities for other groups marginalized through colonial structures to explore structural solutions for health and vitality.
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POST protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. As a private nonprofit land trust, POST has been responsible for saving more than 77,500 acres over the last 40 years. POST works with private landowners and public agencies to connect people and nature. Visit openspacetrust.org for more information.
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