Voices from the Grassroots

Voices from the Grassroots logo

Neighbor Loaves Program Aims to Maintain Regional Grain Value Chains and Feed the Community, Amy Halloran

Telefarming: When Push Comes to Shelve in Responding to COVID-19, Salina Brown and Kathleen Liang

Northwest Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition An Intertribal Collaboration, Nora Frank-Buckner and the Northwest Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition

The EarthBox Project in Grayson County, Virginia, Kathy Cole and Liza Dobson

Community Kitchen Freezing and Vacuum Packaging, Anna Dawson

A Community Engagement Case Study of the Somerville Mobile Farmers' Market, Erica Satin-Hernandez and Lisa Robinson

Diversity Education at Land-Grant Universities from the Perspective of a Female Student of Color, Olivia A. Peña

To the American Food Justice Movements: A Critique That Is Also an Offering, Marcelo Felipe Garzo Montalvo

A Native Perspective: Food Is More Than Consumption, Rachel V. Vernon

Decolonizing a Food System: Freedom Farmers' Market as a Place for Resistance and Analysis, Gail P. Meyers

Privilege and Allyship in Nonprofit Food Justice Organizations, Danny W. Tarng

Concerning the Unbearable Whiteness of Urban Farming, Antonio Roman-Alcalá

Engaged Advocacy and Learning To Represent the Self: Positioning People of Color in Our Contemporary Food Movement, Regina A. Bernard-Carreño


Get Your Story Published! 

While JAFSCD is a scholarly journal, we believe that publishing well-written and valuable stories from professionals, activists, and program participants in the food movement, both enriches knowledge, policy and practice, and provides a professional development opportunity for authors. Sharing your voice or the voice of a client you work with is also a way of educating researchers, scholars, and students who study food systems. In a way, it is a means of telling it like it is (including the challenges of food systems work as well as the opportunities, best practices, and innovative strategies) to help prepare anyone who wishes to visit your community and collaborate with you on a project.

If shareholders think it is beneficial, the JAFSCD Shareholder Consortium may establish a story-telling community of practice in which authors can share their stories for peer feedback before submitting to JAFSCD for editing, formatting, and publishing.

Type of Stories

Reflective essay (in first person: I did this, we did that) 1,000 words max.

Case study (always third person: they do/did this or that) 2,500 words max.

Project evaluation summary (we did this and that) 500-1,000 words max.

Innovation story (we or they did this or that) 500-1,000 words max.

Examples of Topics

  • A strategy that worked and why
  • A strategy that did not work and why (we call this a post mortem case study)
  • A unique perspective on an issue from someone whose voice is rarely heard
  • Proposed state and local laws and ordinances related to food and agriculture
  • Best practices (approaches to problems that are tried and true)
  • A narrative that includes bulleted lists of Dos and Don'ts (see example below)
  • A review of a new tool or resource that is particularly helpful
  • Ask a question and solicit answers/thoughts/experiences from colleagues (e.g., a challenge they are facing that is likely to be universal challenge across state and even national boundaries)
  • Experiences adapting something you learned from a JAFSCD paper, conference, workshop, or colleague

Dos and Don'ts of Story Writing 


  • Do always ask permission to quote someone.
  • Do get signed releases for photos.
  • Do always present the limitations of your advice. Rarely use the word “should.”
  • Do always sound reasonable, balanced, thoughtful, and matter-of-fact.
  • Do avoid clichés and commonly known and generally accepted truths (e.g., poor people are hungry, or farmers are struggling). The audience is mainly people already familiar with the issues, but they are struggling with the how tos.
  • Do be careful about describing people as victims; they have agency, and we disempower them when we think we know what they need and then do it for them.
  • Do be humble; admit to failures. Practitioners and professionals highly value frankness and candor.
  • Do get into the nitty-gritty details of a problem and a solution, but don't go on tangents.
  • Do give interviewees a chance to see what you've written about them and give you feedback.
  • Do let the people you are helping speak: use quotations, paraphrase, and give them credit for ideas.
  • Do not create straw-man arguments.
  • Do point out exceptions to rules, but acknowledge when a case is exceptional, not common. Of course, exceptions can inform practice guidelines and policy-making.
  • Do back up anything you present as a fact with a citation or with your own tried and true experience.
  • Do question the motives and knowledge of authorities and experts, but in a respectful way.
  • Do send anyone you interview or quote a published copy of your piece so they can share their contribution to the food movement.
  • Do use probing questions, but don’t lead an interviewee where you want them to go. Keep it real, not a preconceived narrative you have in mind.


  • Don’t paint things in black and white terms. Shock value is of little value to your professional colleagues. The world is complex, nuanced, and gray all over.
  • Don’t grind an axe, be petty, or make personal attacks.
  • Don’t be hyperbolic (emotionally charged) unless that is the expressed voice of an interviewee.
  • Don’t be self-congratulatory; let your actions speak for themselves.
  • Don’t present things in absolute terms: “Grocery stores hate hearing from our local farmers”; “Our local residents are either hungry or obese.”
  • Don’t announce that something is a “model” unless you mean that it is a work in progress, not a proven ideal.
  • Don’t put words in interviewees’ mouths. Be patient and give them space to speak and figure out the words themselves.
  • Don’t submit a project report unless it is brief and useful to other programs. Keep it short, sweet, and matter-of-fact.

Submitting Voices to JAFSCD

In you like to submit a Voices essay contact Emily Payne and Regina Bernard at voicesfromthegrassroots2020@gmail.com