Virtual Sunday Brunch with Growing Table and the Sundance Institute

The panelists from the first session (from top-left): Leonard Diggs, Veronica Mazariegos-Anastassiou, Helga Garza, Konda Mason, Natalie Baszile.

It was inspiring to join Kat Taylor and the team from Growing the Table at the Sundance Film Festival 2021 for a community discussion of how farmers, filmmakers, and funders are changing the narrative to build an equitable and inclusive food system for our collective future. We gathered for a chance to listen and learn from a panel of diverse voices in food and agriculture who are tirelessly working to achieve justice by building equitable food communities and fostering greater inclusion and diversity in all forms of media as well as in the art of storytelling.

The event opened with a land acknowledgment by Bird Runningwater of the Sundance Institute and Geralyn Dreyfous, co-founder of Impact Partners and Utah Film Center. Geralyn then introduced California’s First Partner and Filmmaker, Jennifer Siebel Newsom who gave a warm and heartfelt welcome address. The moderators and panelists then shared the stories of how growing food can heal land, people, and injustices. They acknowledged the harm caused by our current agricultural system and began to envision how we could draw on our collective will using storytelling to influence government, private investment, and philanthropy. Perhaps this would help practitioners to correct decades of systematic discrimination.


Panel #1: Reconnecting Local Food Systems
Moderated by Helga Garza, Program Director at Agri-Cultura Network



Panel #2: Storytelling to Change the Narrative and Our Collective Culture
Moderated by Anasa Troutman, cultural strategist and CEO of The BIG We



A recording of the full discussion is here. Please share with your friends and colleagues as one thing is abundantly evident – collaboration is essential and more work is needed!  Finally, we’d like to leave you with a few key messages from some of the panelists: 

“We’re not disadvantaged because we lack generational sustainable farming knowledge. Our land was stolen. Our water was contaminated. So in that, I think it is the right to that land. And if it’s taken away, then we have to find resiliency within our community to self-determination.” – Helga Garcia-Garza

“We need to transition from a system of agriculture which is completely based on financial tenants. My theory … is that we need about 30 percent of the revenue that farmers and ranchers make to come from the ecosystem services that they provide their community. And some of it will come from their local community members who are buying their food.”Leonard Diggs

“There are successful stories of Black and Brown farmers who need to be brought into storytelling and the creation of policy.” – Veronica Mazariegos-Anastassiou

“The stories of Back farmers have not been told. These are people who for generations have pulled something out of nothing, who made something out of nothing. This is a population that is important to the story of the building of this country, and it hasn’t been told. Every time I would go to Louisiana, I would see fewer and fewer Black farmers on the land. And so Queen Sugar was my opportunity to really celebrate and honor my forefathers.” – Natalie Baszile


Growing the Table logoIf you would like to support an initiative to pay small, diverse farmers a wholesale price for their at-risk produce to make critical donations to food-insecure communities during the pandemic, please consider donating to the Growing the Table Harvest Fund.