Members of Soil Generation have been building community and working towards change in our food system since 2013. Soil Generation is a black-led, grassroots coalition of radical community gardeners and urban farmers working to build a hyper-local food system in Philadelphia that promotes health and equity in historically marginalized communities and works toward the creation and preservation of safe, healthy, economically secure and culturally-reflective neighborhoods. Members of the coalition are first and foremost local residents that participate in growing food for the communities in which they work and/or live.
In addition to farming, Soil Generation members are educators, artisans, designers, and more. So, a fundamental question that has been a part of their study is that if they are going to form a co-op together, what would the ownership structure look like to accommodate different interests, needs, and outcomes?
“I came into this process already knowing a fair amount about co-ops and have been most excited about learning more about multi-stakeholder co-ops and thinking about equity, power, and risk within a multi-stakeholder framework,” said one Soil Generation member. The group is exploring the potential of becoming a multi-stakeholder cooperative to support the environmental justice and artistic interests of their members and the community they serve.
As a part of the 20 Book Clubs → 20 Cooperative Businesses project, Soil Generation brings together participants with a longstanding history of working together democratically and emphasizing shared leadership. Multiracial solidarity building is an essential element of how Soil Generation works together. For example, each study circle meeting is co-facilitated by one person of color and one white person. This structure promotes equitable skill development opportunities, relationship building, and more shared leadership opportunities within the group.
Soil Generation has tackled varied subjects including the history of economic cooperation, particularly among people of color, and systems thinking within their study circle. “I am really looking forward to diving deeper into the details of what we want to do together and how we can get there,” said one Soil Generation study circle member. “One exciting thing about doing this with a group that has already been organizing together is that the learning process has been an opportunity to go deeper, not only with our organizing, but also with our personal relationships to one another. I am excited to continue that process.”