Queer Visibility in the Food Production System
Jonah Mossberg’s documentary Out Here: A Documentary Film about the Hearts and Hard Work of Queer Farmers in the U.S. aims to “inspire a flagrant national discussion about gender and sexuality as they are related to our food system.” It has been screened at various food and social justice events and will be a part of the November 2014 Growing Power conference in Milwaukie. One of the Urban farms profiled is Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia. In addition to growing food for local distribution, they serve as an educational center offering tours, workshops, youth internships, and job training programs. They work in cooperation with an adjacent community garden “to facilitate intergenerational exchange between young people and elders.”
The website is not marked as queer in any discernible way. This is understandable given their focus on the community at large and youth food security, but it raises the question of where and how queer visibility is important or relevant to local food systems. Johanna Rosen who runs Mill Creek Farm explained to Vanessa Barrington of Grist that “I don’t make my work about me or being gay… But I feel like urban farmers are queering the food system. Just by bringing fresh food to this neighborhood we’re mixing it up.” In Rosen’s formulation, there is something already inherently queer about urban agriculture in a philosophical/political sense in that it offers an alternate system of production based on cooperative coalitions rather than market forces.
This raises some hard to answer questions: Is there value in making sexuality a part of the food systems dialogue? Is it an unnecessary distraction or an opportunity for coalition building? Maybe these questions need better framing…
To connect this issue to the previous post we might ask: Is there a way that greater LGBT visibility in the local food production movement might address LGBT food insecurity? How might the greater vulnerability of bisexual-identified people be related to the issue of visibility?