10/07/13 — Former librarian works to advance national conversation about women and ag

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Former librarian works to advance national conversation about women and ag

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 7, 2013 1:46 PM

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Shorlette Ammons

Mount Olive native Shorlette Ammons said she is excited at the prospect of participating in a program that could influence national policy on agriculture.

Ms. Ammons, coordinator for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems' Community-Based Food Systems Outreach near Cherry Hospital, has been awarded a one-year Food Equity Fellowship by the Center for Social Inclusion.

Based in New York, the center is a national public policy strategy organization that works to unite public policy research and grassroots advocacy to transform structural racial inequity into structural fairness and inclusion.

As part of the fellowship, Ms. Ammons will embark on a year-long project to interview women of color working on food issues throughout the South. The process will help create and strengthen women-of-color networks in the South, and the report will offer policy recommendations for addressing structural inequalities in the food system, said Maya Wiley, the CSI founder and president.

"Shorlette exemplifies the leadership and the grassroots engagement we want to support," Ms. Wiley said. "We respect and appreciate the leadership that she provides her community, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and North Carolina A&T."

The focus on southern women of color means African American women, Latino women, Ms. Ammons said. There also is a large immigrant community that includes people from other communities.

"We decided to focus on those because usually women of color are in families who have the most disparity in their families," she said. "Not to say that is the not the case for all low-income people. This kind of helps me focus on a particular target group, then raise up some of the work that is happening around the South.

"So it is not just about me and my work, but to raise up the work of a lot of smaller communities kind of in the same situation as Goldsboro. It will be a chance to network with these women. These are people who are doing grassroots community foods based works. That means some of the stuff like we are doing in Goldsboro with community gardens and co-ops like the ones we just started."

Ms. Ammons, a former librarian, holds a master's degree in library science from North Carolina Central University. She has developed her growing experience by working closely with the Goldsboro community over the past five years through the Wayne Food Initiative and various community-based food systems projects, including community gardens and a recently established urban farm.