The Ecology of Food
January 23 at 1:00 pm
In this panel, seed activists and scholars present on the practices of food storage. It highlights connections between seed keeping in Gainesville, Florida, and the Caribbean and West Africa. It also explores the relationship between food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and food diversity.
Alexandra Cenatus holds an M.A in Latin American Studies and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida. Cenatus’ research interests center on how gender, religion, race, and class interact, with a focus on Haiti. In 2015, she received funding from the UF-Duke National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to explore the social role of priestesses in Haitian Vodou. Her M.A. thesis builds on this research and analyzes the ways in which Haiti’s social changes affect the economic livelihood of Haitian Vodou priestesses. Cenatus is currently working on creating an online exhibit that will showcase the experiences of Haitian immigrants in the United States: The Haitian American Dream, a project from the Intersections on Global Blackness and Latinx Identity group.
Melissa DeSa is a co-founder of Working Food, a non-profit organization based in Gainesville, Florida. She is a University of Florida graduate with a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology. Her background and passion for wildlife and wild places has brought a depth of knowledge and understanding of her current non-profit work tackling food systems. She has 10 years of experience in non-profit start-up and management, community organizing, food systems, seed stewardship, gardening, farming, education and outreach. Her work focuses on making seed stewardship and youth education accessible and community-oriented. Her efforts to promote agricultural biodiversity through seed stewardship and outreach focus primarily on working with family farmers, underprivileged youth and adults with disabilities. She has built Working Food’s Southern Heritage Seed Collective organically over 10 years, growing it from a small seed library to a thriving community program providing classes, workshops, training, regional seed varieties and collaborative work on seed systems projects with regional and national partners. She currently serves on the advisory board for both Southern SARE, the Southeast Slow Food Ark of Taste, and Grow Hub.