The BLOOM food justice program brings together urban farmers, young adults, city staff and the broader community to create community-led solutions to food insecurity by focusing on food justice and food sovereignty. BLOOM is a partnership between the Library, Black Farmers Collective, EarthCorps, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Wa Na Wari and Yes Farm.
The BLOOM Food Justice series was launched in 2020 by the Library with Wa Na Wari, the Black Farmers Collective and Yes Farm to respond to pandemic-related crises in mental health and food insecurity. With Seattle Parks & Recreation’s Urban Food Systems as lead city partner, BLOOM was designed as a pilot program where emerging civic leaders 18-25 years old explored food justice and food sovereignty through fun hands-on work with strong COVID safety protocols.
Since 2020, BLOOM has expanded to a 16-week program with over 40 engaged community members. BLOOM includes Wa Na Wari’s Teaching Garden; a BLOOM summer fellowship for BIPOC young adults ages 18-25; harvest parties at local urban farms, food forests, and city orchards across Seattle in concert with mutual aid organizers; public programming and workshops; drop-in garden hours; and an artist-in-residency program.
BLOOM brings together community gardeners, naturalists, mutual aid organizers, abolitionists, artists, young adults and city staff. Together, we creatively look at the intersections of food justice, environmental health, food sovereignty, civics, community organizing, arts and creativity, popular education and cultural work in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region – all with a lens of racial justice and social justice.
As Wa Na Wari states, “The BLOOM Food Justice Series creates an opportunity to gather historically accurate knowledge about the history of Black and Indigenous work in feeding their communities. Connecting to the natural world through growing food has been used to build community, gather knowledge about health and nutrition, and develop collective agency.”
The 2022 project was inspired by understanding how Indigenous sovereignty, Black liberation and BIPOC solidarity could break healing down to a science through the practice of soil remediation. BLOOM has deepened its relationship with University of Washington science researchers who are focused on soil remediation with communities of color as a methodology for environmental justice. In 2022, nine new fellows were involved, as well as returning artist Ixtli Salinas Whitehawk and master gardener Christina Chambers, and mentors.
BLOOM is part of The Seattle Public Library’s Public Engagement focus on community-led and community-centered projects focused on celebrating and uplifting dynamic civic leadership.