stone circles, Seed Fund Grantee
November 8, 2012
By Catherine Covington
What does it mean to live sustainably, particularly in regards to stewardship of land? 2012 RSF Seed Fund Grantee stone circles has made this question central to its work. stone circles, located in the small town of Mebane, NC, has a mission to strengthen and sustain people committed to transformation and justice, and its mission comes alive through spiritual practice and principles, a sustainable relationship with the land, radical hospitality, and strategic collaboration.
stone circles was founded in 1995 and has continually been at the forefront of the national movement to transform social change work by creating strong and explicit links between individual and social transformation. It does so by working at the local, statewide, and national level and provides trainings, workshops and retreats that offer transformative experiences that link commitment to sustainability and practice with frameworks for strategic action.
Since 2008, stone circles has been working to create a more equitable and just food system in central North Carolina. In 2011 the organization began researching ways to directly support local sustainable agriculture. One major discovery was the barriers that young adults of color face when trying to enter the farming profession. In addition to training and mentoring, farmers of color oftentimes lack the access to the resources and the decision-making groups that are fueling the growing movement around local food sustainability. The RSF Seed Fund grant is specifically intended to support a 10-day residential training program for young farmers of color at The Stone House, stone circles’ 70-acre rural retreat and training center. The program will include practical farm skills training in organic agriculture practices, food systems education, and personal practices for self-renewal that focus on the experience of deeply resting and replenishing the body and spirit.
In preparation for the upcoming training, stone circles has put on a number of food justice workshops. According to evaluation summaries, beyond increasing their knowledge of food justice, participants also reported a deepened ability to relate across lines of difference. One of the highlights for many people was the opportunity to share personal stories of race, ethnicity, and class backgrounds, as it connected them to each other and to the larger framework being presented.
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Catherine Covington is Senior Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.