Hi Farm Folks, 
It’s been a busy summer for us here at Book & Plow (as you’ve probably been able to tell from our lack of regular newsletters!). Alongside the normal uptick in work as the growing season progresses and a new school year approaches, summer of 2020 has been full of unexpected challenges. Adjusting to a new season under COVID conditions has definitely been a learning experience. We’re proud to be one of the only entities on campus actively working in-person with students, working with 18 students to grow food and build community under unprecedented circumstances this spring and summer. It’s been fulfilling to watch our vegetables grow as they always do, even when everything else in the world is so different and to be able to continue supplying our food to our dining hall, local food donation efforts, and starting last week, a few of our CSA members who have opted for an August share. 

Like many of you, we have simultaneously been processing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others at the hands of police. This summer has been full of reflection and conversation among our staff on how we can best show up for the fight to end police brutality, structural racism, and anti-blackness in our own lives. As a new school year looms, we want to encourage ourselves and other Non-Black folks to take a moment to reflect on the importance of keeping up the momentum of our actions. Have we allowed ourselves to get comfortable and stop taking action? How can we reinvest ourselves in this critical work? We’ve attached some reflections and snippets of our learning from these past few months below for anyone who might be asking themselves these questions. 
As always, we value your input and would love to hear any of your own reflections. If you have resources, events, etc. that you want us to share with our Book & Plow community on our instagram or in future newsletters please let us know. 
Yours in commitment to growing food, community, and consciousness, 
For Book & Plow,
Julia, Kaylee and Maida 

Moving Money Around
I have found that it has been important for me to explore what donating with intention looks like. For me, this has looked like narrowing down what my values are. Feeling like my donating practices are intentional, rooted in my values, and sustainable makes me feel more confident in my ability to maintain them going forward.

Questions that were helpful to ask myself: Do I prefer to donate directly to people or to organizations? What are characteristics of an organization that makes me enthusiastic about donating? (i.e. centering Black queer/trans folks, centering Black women & femmes, local/regional, etc)? Can I make any of my donations recurring? Can I examine my weekly/monthly budget and set aside or reallocate a portion of funds to be donated? 

As someone who is typically living without savings and paycheck to paycheck, I try to donate when I have a bit leftover at the end of the month, in months with more pay periods, etc. Because I have continued being paid through the pandemic, been deemed essential and been able to work, am single with no children, as well as had student loan payments halted until September, and so I have been able to donate more than usual in this time. I encourage others in the same boat as me to certainly build a safety net with the “extra” money that is not going to student loan payments, but also to take a percentage of it and donate to as many places as you can. Certainly do your research before you donate. I have been prioritizing donating to Black led organizations as well as specifically farm / food related organizations as well as funds to support Black Trans / Queer youth, bail funds for protesters, and mutual aid fundraisers.

Black Lives Matter; Reclaim the Block; Black Visions Collective; Black Earth Farms; Local mutual aid funds; Local bail funds; Queer Appalachia; BEAM-training, movement building and grant making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness and liberation of Black and marginalized communities. 

I have unofficially contributed about 5% of my monthly paycheck to share out to the world for many years. It has taken the form of group memberships, individual gofundme requests, and regular donations to organizations. 

Workplace Culture
Considering the ways I can show up at work. Reading and honestly assessing myself against “Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture” has been really informative of ways I can alter my workplace practices to be anti-racist. I highly suggest giving it a read here and doing some assessment of yourself and your workplace. The article gives concrete solutions to each characteristic which I’ve found very helpful! 

Farming and Racism
I’m thinking a lot about the ways in which farming as I know it is centered on a colonist mentality. I think especially as a farmer, there is a lot of work I need to do to grapple with the ways in which European agricultural practices have been used to colonize and enslave people for hundreds of years, continuing to this day. Our food system is steeped in racism. From prison farms which don’t pay prisoners to even smaller scale organic farms (even in this Valley!) where white men are the only ones on tractors and are paid more than Black and Brown workers and treated with more respect. I am thinking about how change has to happen on the micro and macro level. In the coming months and years we have the opportunity to create a more just food system and it will always start with giving land back to Indigenous people and Black people.


Staying up to date with local action items, virtual and in-person events. Important places I gather this information is from: @defund413 @pvp_youthvoicesunited @decarwmass all on instagram. 

I have been working with friends and folks at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center to set up networks of mutual aid; we’re talking to farmers and grocery stores to pick up donations and redistribute to the community. 

Continued Education
It’s been important for me to educate myself more on the demands of folks who experience police and state violence. Many have been calling for police and prison abolition, a topic that I know only the basics of. A big area of learning has been doing my own research on the topic of police and prison abolition so I can better envision a world without police and prisons, ask myself questions about accountability and handling harm I have caused, and be a more informed participant of the movement to abolish police and prisons. Here are some resources I’ve found to be helpful for learning about abolitionist principles:
Finally, here are some links/resources we’ve been following this summer:
When They Call You A Terrorist - Patrisse Kahn-Cullors 
Agrarian Questions and the Struggle for Land Justice in the United States Eric Holt Gimenez
Working my way through the Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit 
Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police - Mariame Kaba
Abolitionist Futures Reading List 
Abolition Journal's If You're New to Abolition Study Group Guide
University of Minnesota made books on racial justice free through the month of August.
Both Toasted Sister Podcast and a new film called Gather, both centered on indigenous foodways.
The Hunger for Justice Series from A Growing Culture
HEAL Food Alliance 

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Book & Plow Farm · 301 E Hadley Rd · Amherst, MA 01002 · USA

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