The 191st recipient is Olka Baldeh of Medicine Bowl Farm @medicine_bowl in North Carolina.
Olka writes, “You could call me a ‘pandemic re-aligned land returner.’ I am a queer, farmer/poet/artist/bee-keeper at Medicine Bowl, a land-based strategy for liberation and a queer BIPOC sanctuary in NC.
For me, farming is a pathway to return to my ancestral lineage and a radical reorientation in a time where the land is demanding rebalance, and those closest to the land are demanding the dignity, sovereignty, and safety that we deserve.
Being a farmer gives me a frontline understanding of how dominant systems provoke us into scarcity & conflict by manipulating the value of our most basic material needs. Our current food systems necessitate that people who do the hardest work to feed our communities are underpaid and exploited and those working hands are usually Black and brown.
I believe that support is holistic - mental, physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual. This looks like a world where farmers (Black, brown, and queer farmers especially) have ongoing access to secure housing, funding for land-projects and our daily needs, trusted community, body work, therapy, education, and entire supportive teams dedicated to the protection and preservation of the land and the people stewarding it. This care is really only available through one another.
Without community care, we have nothing. The system has no intention to care for us and through experience we can know that there is no viability in going at it alone. For me, caring community looks like folks standing in circle with one another with trust, consistency, communication, self-regulation, and space to fully access and wield each persons individual superpower. What I know to be true is that the self cannot be well if the village is not and, even more importantly, that the self can become well and stay well if the village is well.”