Our relationship with the food system, the environment and with each other is an intimate and oftentimes tumultuous kinship that requires critical interrogation of our values.
Local food policy councils everywhere are organized as a stakeholder voice designed to assess the sectors of the food industry ecosystem. This includes how the system informs economic development, healthy families and communities, environmental stewardship and the preservation and viability of farms and farm land, including those in urban centers.
We are a Black woman led initiative with a targeted universalist approach to systems design. We center the voice and experiences of Black women as a strategy to design a more comprehensive, responsible and sustainable food industry ecosystem that is beneficial for all. We encourage the participation of all people in this work, because all people are needed for this work.
At Zoo City, we are not asking for a seat at the table. We are creating our own table that everyone can eat from.
Locally, we serve as a bridge for farmers and small businesses working under cottage food laws; this allows for more sustainable income, closer community connections, and will lend to the restoration and rejuvenation of vacant land in areas affected by environmental racism.
Regionally, we develop pathways for food sovereignty. We do this by providing food systems literacy to communities with little to no access to education on the food industry ecosystem, primarily in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.
Nationally, our desire is for our model to be accessible to communities across the country. Although our food system is designed with Kalamazoo and Battle Creek counties in mind, we know that there are other cities and counties around the U.S. that could benefit from an initiative that champions food sovereignty. With this in mind, we aim to share our design model with our neighbors outside of Michigan for them to apply it to their specific, collective needs.
Truth to power
As a food policy council with the Michigan Local Food Council Network, we have established ourselves as an entity that reflects the interests of those underrepresented across all sectors of the food industry ecosystem. We share these perspectives within the network to inform policies, systems and legislation.
Remi is the organizer, administrator and co-founder of the Zoo City Farm and Food Network. Having spent the past seventeen years of her career in advocacy, human services and nonprofit administration, she happened upon urban farming as an act of rebellion.
Remi has a spectacular daughter named Tegan, and she is literally everything.
Salina Johnson is a freelance consultant who has decided to lend her many talents to Zoo City’s creation. She has a background in engineering, customer service, and public health services. She is a Michigan native who spent her younger years in the field as the granddaughter of a farmer, and her dedication to this project can be seen in her passion for the work.
Co-Coordinator of Operations
Ru was born in Kalamazoo and raised in the Vine neighborhood, and has spent their life thus far focusing on strengthening bonds of community in Kalamazoo. Graduating from LNHS in 2016, they spent three years seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Gender & Women’s Studies at both GVSU and WMU. Ru has many hobbies and interests, though they are most passionate about making music, art, writing and taking care of houseplants. Above all, Ru seeks to find balance and justice in all things. Their involvement in Zoo City is focused on this ideal: to provide everyone equal access to programs and resources that can improve their quality of living.