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By Michelle DiMuzio, Communications Coordinator

To bring our year to a close, Slow Food USA wants to highlight some Slow Food Sparks that have emerged for members of our national community. What are some of those moments that reinvigorated or re-inspired members of our network to fight for good, clean and fair food for all? These sparks are fueled by our donors and members, whose generosity helps our movement thrive. Please make a donation or become a member today.

In 2021, Slow Food USA hosted two national events that helped chart the course for the future of our foodways: Slow Seed Summit and Slow Fish. These virtual summits gathered seed growers, savers, fisherfolk, fishmongers, chefs, and advocates for presentations and panel discussions, as well as small-scale gatherings and networking opportunities. As a grassroots movement of people representing many different connections to food, Slow Food USA needs connection and space for relationship building in order to envision the future. 

Rowen White, seed keeper, mother, farmer, and storyteller, opened up the Slow Seed Summit with a prayer: “May this time together be a collective prayer for all of us. That we would make a renewed commitment to be a part of that community and stewardship that ensures that our community has seeds for future generations.” This sentiment set the tone for the summit, which held 18 virtual sessions over the course of two weeks on topics such as relationship building, returning to roots, biodiversity, and preserving for future generations. One of the sessions, entitled Seed Keeping: An Everyday Act of Resistance, emphasized the importance of preserving seed stories, especially from black and brown people, as an act of resistance. Nearly 600 attendees heard from over 50 speakers throughout the summit, which took place between February 18-28, 2021; attendees shared positive reflections of the event. “The Slow Seed Summit was everything we hoped for and more,” commented an attendee. “It was an honor and a great joy to bring together such bright minds, advocates, and voices to tackle a complex topic.” 

The summit created a lasting impact, with over 5,000 views of the recorded sessions. A comprehensive resource list was also created, derived from suggestions of speakers and attendees, featuring books, organizations, podcasts, seed saving information, and other resources for the Slow Food USA community to continuously utilize.

“The 2021 Seed Summit was the beautiful creation of Slow Seed leaders who formed an amazing committee of people devoted to all things seed. They brought their stories, research, communities and networks together to inspire, motivate and galvanize everyone in attendance. This gathering of like-minded people in the world of food is one of the things Slow Food does best — bring people together around good, clean and fair,” shared Mara Welton, Director of Programs and one of the Slow Seed Summit coordinators. 

“If we protect earth and sea coming together, we will always have life.” Jonathan James Perry of the Wampanoag Aquinnah and one of the speakers for Slow Fish, reminded us of the importance of indigenous knowledge, a key theme throughout the event, which took place between March 18-27, 2021. Other common threads included our deep connection to marine and freshwater resources, our need for intergenerational revitalization, fish as a critical part of our foodways, equity and social justice being centered as priorities, and recognizing that relationships are the foundation of and for change. Over 300 people attended Slow Fish,, where they engaged with 45 leaders and speakers over the course of 6 deep-dive sessions. The impact of the event was evident from the attendee responses. “My biggest takeaways from the Slow Fish Gathering are the realization of a) how robust and diverse this network really is b) how important it is to be supporting our local fishing/mariculture communities (and to know where our food comes from and who is behind it!) and c) how diverse and nuanced both the issues facing our oceans are, but also the opportunities protecting and preserving them,” shared one attendee.

Similar to the Seed Summit, Slow Fish resulted in an archive of information and videos, which have resulted in 3,000 video views, and a detailed synthesis of the event. 

While the events spanned different topics, the energy and inspiration were consistent throughout the Seed Summit and Slow Fish. Attendees left feeling connected and motivated to contribute to good, clean and fair foodways, with concrete next steps and resources to continue exploring. Neither of these events would have been possible without contributions from our Slow Food USA network. Without these events, we lose the opportunity for connection, relationship building, and movement toward better foodways.