We’re thrilled to welcome Josie Walker to our team as our Eastern North Carolina Project Coordinator for FaithLands, a coalition-led initiative that supports faith communities in making lands available for sustainable, agroecological farming, especially to those in society marginalized by virtue of class, race, gender, economic status, and other factors.
Josie has been involved in sustainable agriculture, food justice, and the local food movement for many years, getting her start by volunteering at Winston-Salem State University’s community garden, Simon’s Green Acre, and working at the Transformed Lives Community Center’s food pantry. She later became involved with the NC 10% Campaign as the Local Food Ambassador to increase awareness of local food issues among students at NC A&T State University, where she also completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Systems with a Concentration in Urban and Community Horticulture.
Since working as the Northeast Regional Coordinator with Partners in Health & Wholeness (PHW), a project of the NC Council of Churches, Josie’s work has focused on helping communities of faith become more integrated into the food justice and local food conversations.
“I believe in FaithLands’ mission to get churches to participate directly in the local food movement to address food justice and food sovereignty by turning the land that they have been blessed to steward into productive farmland using sustainable and regenerative practices… .”
— Josie Walker, Eastern NC FaithLands Project Coordinator
As Josie points out, “faith communities can be integral to spreading the message to the general public especially in rural areas where churches and other communities of faith are the anchor institutions.”
Jamie Pottern, our Land, Community & Education Director, served on the FaithLands hiring committee and will be supporting Josie’s day-to-day work on the project. “Josie has a wealth of deep connections and relationships with faith-based communities and farmers in North Carolina and we are thrilled to bring her on board to lead this exciting project on the ground,” Jamie says.
“Presbyterians I mention FaithLands to are jazzed about the potential for this work!” says Andrew Kang Bartlett, member of the FaithLands hiring committee and National Associate for the Presbyterian Hunger Program. “So many Presbyterians are committed to taking concrete steps around racial justice, in particular actions that seek to make amends for past injustices. Many also see its potential to revitalize congregations,” he says.
“African Americans lose 30,000 acres per year in land ownership. Access to land for young farmers is scarce at time due to high land prices. This project will allow young farmers to grow their operation and eventually add land back into farming that is currently being lost,” says Jillian Hishaw, FaithLands hiring committee member, attorney and founding Director of F.A.R.M.S., a legal and education non-profit that provides services to small farmers and rural youth in the Southeast.
Many thanks are due to all of our fellow FaithLands coalition members and our hiring committee for all their support and hard work: F.A.R.M.S., The Conservation Fund, Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center, and the Presbyterian Hunger Program. We look forward to working together and supporting Josie as she kicks off this exciting new project.