SWARM, Goldsboro NC

“We building here a youth movement, y

SWARM, Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement, was born out of a need to address inequities in the local food system and to organize young people around issues of childhood obesity and other health disparities that exist in communities of color. 

Wayne County is the fifth largest agricultural county in the state of North Carolina, with an agricultural history that runs deep. People of color in the area have a long, loving and complex relationship to that history.  Many youth of color have grown up in agricultural families and have seen the struggles of their parents and grandparents to hold on to their land, retain their dignity while working in exploitative conditions, and battle racist practices that have denied opportunities for many rural Black and Latino farm workers.  Additionally, because the area is so rural, young folks are socially isolated. 

The Wayne Food Initiative started SWARM as a way to address these issues. SWARM aims to develop the next generation of food justice leaders in Wayne County; to create more access to healthy, affordable, naturally-grown food; to create entrepreneurial opportunities through urban farming; to build social justice leadership among youth; and provide opportunities for SWARM youth to engage and network with other youth of color.

The Wayne Food Initiative, founded in 2007, is a grassroots collective of organizations and individuals working to improve the local food system by increasing access to food that is healthy, green, fair, sustainable, accessible and affordable. Since 2009, SWARM youth have been leaders and ambassadors in this effort, educating the community – particularly other youth – about food justice and examining the root causes of food system inequities.

Youth Voice

The revolution will not be televised
Did y’all hear me?
The revolution will not be televised
Sponsored by Sprint
The nation’s #1 provider
I be pushing numbers and pens
Laptops, large offices and desks
Flying Southwest
With TSA approved lattes
Speeding up your revolution
Wait, I am the movement!
Just one problem, tho’
I ain’t moving
Self-care and love is all good and great
But I think we force that
Broken backs and sweat
Also can be a good thing
Non-profits look exciting
But good work is more
Than just large endowments
Shit one applied to help me
Turns out, I need three degrees!
The well is drying
Knowledge forgotten, lost with the sacred
I don’t want this y’all
Keep the steam y’all are building
I’mma do me while I’m breathing
I don’t know why
I’m my own criticizer 
I too fall victim to my own
Lies, creating narratives for myself
From “it would be great if…” or “what about his…?”
I soon enjoy putting the wool over my own eyes…
We building here a youth movement y’all!
Now back to bed, lights out at 10!
JP Hernandez, SWARM youth; written at the 2011 Rooted in Community Conference, Philadelphia

SWARM, Center for Environmental Farming Systems
Small Farm Unit, NC A&T State University
Goldsboro, NC