The 212th recipients are Becks Hilliard & Sierra Torres of Cicada Calling Farm @cicadacallingfarm in Independence, Louisiana.
They write, “We are a 2-acre diversified vegetable and cut flower farm run by two young farmers from Louisiana. We believe farming in the Gulf South is an act of resistance towards a disappearing community that has been ravaged by climate change and the petrochemical industry. With climate change threatening our community’s ability to be food sovereign, we hope to invest in and help develop better farming practices for our area as well as support our community with fresh, healthy foods grown without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers.
For us, this is not just a business, it’s an intentional decision to invest in a future for Louisiana and create alternative economies, structures, and systems to support, heal, and nourish our community. Young people in Louisiana are told their whole lives that this land won’t exist in 50 years (if you are from here, the saying “Louisiana loses a football field of wetlands per hour” is likely engraved in your brain) and that the only way to make money in our State is to go into the oil and gas industry.
Although confronting and working to develop strategies to handle the displacement that will ultimately come due to climate change and coastal erosion, we also believe that it is equally important to flip these narratives and ask ourselves, what could Louisiana look like if we did not rely on these destructive industries and instead invested in our community? What would it look like for there to be equitable jobs that help build up our environment? What would it look for people to have access to fresh healthy food grown in ways that supported the beautiful biodiversity of this land vs destroying it? That’s what Cicada Calling means to us. We all deserve to have a joyful and prosperous future in Louisiana — today and 50 years from now. For us farming is a calling: an act of self care and an act of community care.
Given that this is our first season farming while working other jobs to support the start up costs of our farm, we have definitely struggled to find a balance in our personal and work lives. That being said, we recognize that balance will never come naturally when you are forced to exist and operate within a capitalist system. The ways that we try to practice self-care in our daily lives at the farm are: we take breaks when we want to, we pack bomb ass farm lunches, we go swim at a nearby river or grab a beer after working a hot day in the field, we invest in relationships with other radical mutual aid groups and support community members with free seasonal produce boxes. When we make mistakes or when things don’t go as we hoped, we try to remember to have compassion and that we’re building a community around us. We also deeply rely on and draw energy from the collective of growers that New Orleans has. There are so many growers willing to share their resources, ideas, and experiences and we would not have gotten where we are without this collective of amazing human beings.”