On a sunny day in April, the Montgomery County Food Council’s Racial Equity Committee hosted an informative, guided tour of Button Farm Living History Center, Maryland’s only living history center depicting 19th century plantation life with Anthony Cohen, the President of the Menare Foundation. Button Farm sits on 40-acres, inside of Seneca Creek State Park in Germantown, Maryland and provides a safe and affirming space for people to gather, commune and explore. Through unique interactive experiences, they seek to reveal our nation’s social justice legacy, using the story of slavery and the Underground Railroad as a spark for human potential. The guided facilitation places guests as active participants at the center of this historical narrative to create an authentic, and immersive, period-interpretation of the era. We were joined by over 30 community members from around the county including: Manna Food Center, Montgomery Parks, Visit Montgomery, Capital Area Food Bank, and more!
This was the first educational event in our Racial Equity Committee’s in-depth exploration in 2022 of the history around land use for food production in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Food Council’s Racial Equity Committee (REC) leads the application of a racial equity lens to Food Council operational and programmatic work and establishes a formal feedback loop to provide considered guidance to the Council on food systems issues. The committee also facilitates racial equity and social justice educational opportunities for the Council community through coordinating professional development and training opportunities, hosting guest speakers, and curating reading and listening recommendations. This focus is directly connected to the Food Council’s policy priority of increasing affordable, long-term access to land for food farming, prioritizing increasing resources available (including land and financing) to establish, sustain, and grow farms owned by people of color.
The Food Council is grateful to Anthony Cohen and Andy Boyd from Button Farm for being our hosts for the day, and teaching us so much about how the history of land access, and how enslaved labor shaped the landscape of modern day farming in Montgomery County.
“This was my first tour of a farm in Maryland and I think it really added context to the Montgomery County farms that I hadn’t been aware of. I really enjoyed this tour.” –Participant
To learn more about Button Farm and our Host, Tony Cohen:
- OPRAH, BEYOND JUST TALK – The Washington Post
- A Slice of Slavery Life – The Washington Post
- Tony Cohen – Lady Farmer Marketplace
- Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad
To learn more about the Food Council’s Racial Equity Committee:
“I appreciated hearing everyone’s connection to the food system and I especially enjoyed how the in-person tour format cultivated many moments to connect spontaneously with each other.” – Participant