Queer beekeepers, urban agriculturalists, and rural livestock workers are challenging not only conventional farming and food production practices, but also the image of farming itself
By Jaya Saxena
Jun 2, 2021
Regardless of how you look, there is an assumption that one must grow up farming in order to be a farmer. Which is not true for many queer farmers. Ang Roell, beekeeper and founder of They Keep Bees, grew up in Queens, New York. Their only experience with farming was a high school job at the Queens County Farm Museum. But an early love for nature led them to study environmental education in Boston and work on urban farming projects. That’s when they discovered bees. “I really connected to the work and the stewarding, it just was very different from some of the other works that I’ve been doing, which is mostly focused on plants and trees.
So it’s sort of bridged for me, stewarding with animals and also working in a field, in an agricultural pursuit.” Now, They Keep Bees sells raw honey, beeswax, and starter hives, and offers consults to others interested in beekeeping on their own.
Christina Bouza, co-founder and director of Finca Morada, an educational urban farm in North Miami, and Grow Roots Miami, a food justice collaboration that builds free food-producing gardens, came to farming through the restaurant world. They co-founded Cubana Social, a restaurant and venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and said “it was deep inside this project that I learned firsthand about the injustices and failures of our food system.” An interest in alternative ecosystems and sustainability followed, and in 2016, after the lease was up on the restaurant, they attended the Black & Latinx Farmer Immersion Program at Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York. It was “exactly the catalyst I needed to shift my focus and my offerings from the capitalist system to land-based ecosystems, make more of an impact in dismantling racism in our food system, and [help] queer and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] folks re-connect to nature, our birthright.”
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