Open-Gate Farming: The Perks and Pitfalls of Growing with Community
Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture Collaboration and SisterLand Farms will be joining forces in this presentation, panel, and question & answer all about community-rooted agriculture. Join four farm representatives as they discuss lessons learned from years of working with the public and small farm communities in Washington, and benefit from their experiences collectivizing growers, land-sharing, developing cooperative retail networks, and safely coordinating volunteers in the field.
About the Speakers
Caitlin LeckOrcas Community Participatory Agriculture
Caitlin Leck is a mother, farmer, organizer, and facilitator who believes nourishing food and regenerative farming can act as mechanisms of progressive social change. She has helped guide the Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture program as an anchor farmer since its inception in 2014 and is working with a stellar group of ag advocates on the Food System Team of San Juan County to design and implement a food system plan. Caitlin also serves as the Chair for the SJC Agricultural Resources Committee, sits on the Steering Committee of the Orcas Women’s Coalition, and operates her Eastsound-based edible landscaping company.
Patrick BennetOrcas Community Participatory Agriculture
As a young adult in central California, Patrick worked on his family’s farm using conventional agricultural practices. After realizing that this type of agriculture was having adverse effects on the web of life, he began to discover new approaches to growing food and medicine. He completed a six-month course at the California School of Herbal Studies in 1982; topics covered included cultivation, wildcrafting, and medicinal uses of herbs. From 1983-88, he was involved in developing housing, gardens, and infrastructure on an eighty-acre piece of forested land in southern Oregon. Since 1989, Patrick has been the owner/operator of Good Earth Works, an Orcas-based landscaping company that installs home food gardens and edible landscapes. He is contributing to a resilient local food production system by bringing people together to create gardens and plant food-bearing landscapes.
Laurie RacicotOrcas Community Participatory Agriculture
Laurie Racicot is a freelance art director, design strategist, and graphic designer. She is passionate about the power of art and community projects to build movements and strengthen the threads between social, racial, economic, and environmental justice issues. She has a background in design, art, architecture, outdoor education, and organic gardening. She has a passion for offshore sailing, front-yard vegetable gardening, and backcountry adventure. She is a mother, a farmer, and a maker. She is deeply committed to the idea that community interdependence holds the solutions to our problems.
Jenson is the current owner of SisterLand Farms in Port Angeles, WA. They operate a 40-member CSA and Clallam County’s only kitchen waste and compost recovery program. Beyond this, and with the democratic power of a lateral, equal-equity crew, SisterLand houses community projects that supply underserved growers with tools, seeds, plants, and apprenticeships. In 2023, the farm launched “The Dignity Project,” which aims to sow greater dignity in the farming profession by increasing pay, transparency, and benefits for seasonal and part-time laborers in the field.