Dreaming Out Loud in Washington, DC is a multi-faceted, multi-service organization devoted to lifting up communities in the nation’s capital which, historically, have been persistently marginalized. It began in 2008, by teaching character and leadership development in public charter schools, but as founder Christopher Bradshaw analyzed educational inequality and socioeconomic disparities in the city, one thing kept coming up: systemic inequality in the food system.
As a result, Bradshaw moved, with the help of a local church and a local farmer, to create community farmers markets to serve this neglected community. But overcoming more than a century of structural racism, built on the horrible history of slavery and sharecropping, segregation and pervasive racial discrimination, required a more comprehensive effort. Consequently, Dreaming Out Loud expanded into urban agriculture and food system work, as well as workforce development and entrepreneurial training – all aimed at empowering marginalized DC residents through food security and greater financial stability. As it says on its web site, “DOL aims to use the food system as a powerful tool of resistance, resilience, and advocacy for structural change.”
Farm Aid supports Dreaming Out Loud because it helps both farmers and eaters in and around DC. DOL aids farmers by providing them with market access, technical assistance, and funding through its DREAM Black Food Fund. Market access, of course, comes in the form of farmers in the region bringing their produce to consumers through DOL’s wholesale and CSA operations. And technical assistance and funding from the DREAM Black Food Fund helps famers increase their capacity and expand their operations. At the same time, DOL helps eaters living in a state of food apartheid by making it easier for them to get access to farm fresh healthy foods. Dreaming Out Loud operates markets particularly in neighborhoods with heightened food insecurity, and it accepts EBT and SNAP benefits to make food more affordable. For residents with limited mobility, DOL offers delivery services.
Dreaming Out Loud has put its Farm Aid grant to use to help with general operating costs associated with running programs like the Farm at Kelly Miller Middle School, the DREAM incubator program, the DREAM Black Food Fund, and the Black Farm CSA. These programs have a specific, intentional focus on racial equity and social justice, on supporting farmers and farmer-led solutions to climate change, and on building power for systemic change. Those are projects Farm Aid is proud to support.