BFI’s ab banks Wins 2023 Maxwell/Hanrahan Award in Food
ab banks, a farmer, healer, and BFI’s Agroecology and Wellness Coordinator, is recognized for their work regenerating land and communities through food.
Last month, the San Francisco based Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation announced the winners of its first-ever Awards in Food, recognizing individuals “whose work has made a significant impact on craft and cultural tradition, environmental sustainability, and/or nutrition and food access.” The scope of this year’s Maxwell/Hanrahan Awards in Food focused on work in the western United States.
We are thrilled to announce that ab banks, BFI’s Agroecology and Wellness Coordinator, was recognized as one of the three award recipients. From the Maxwell/Hanrahan foundation blog:
An Oakland native, ab banks serves as garden lead for People’s Programs in West Oakland, grows food and ensures produce goes from the urban garden into the hands of under-resourced community members. ab was the first member to join People’s Programs. The People’s Garden was created to advance food autonomy for Black people in ab’s hometown and increase access to healthy food – including hot-meal deliveries for unhoused neighbors every Sunday and family grocery deliveries twice a month. With ab serving as garden lead, stewarding the land and harvesting crops, in 2022, the program distributed more than 800 pounds of produce to families and unhoused neighbors in West Oakland.
ab’s farming work is intertwined with wellness for people and the planet. In addition to leading the People’s Garden, ab started the (Free) Community Health Clinic, which opened in 2021 to address needs identified during weekly food delivery. ab is also the Agroecology and Wellness Coordinator at the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI). Here ab conducts participatory research on agroecology practices rooted in soil care and healing communities that have been generationally underestimated and silenced. BFI supports outreach, events and academic opportunities at more than 10 urban gardens producing food and preserving native ecosystems. ab continues to learn, grow and share their work in healing and meditation.
In 2022-2023, ab was a Just Leader Fellow with the Cooperative Food Empowerment Collective. Their work is aimed at a cooperative food economy powered by the visionary leadership of Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color.
The other two recipients are:
- Deenaalee Chase-Hodgdon, a Deg Xit’an Dene and Sugpiaq subsistence and commercial fisher and storyteller, highlighting sustainable fisheries, Indigenous voices and traditions, and relationships to the land and water.
- Nelson Hawkins, a Sacramento-based farmer advancing regenerative agricultural methods, securing land access for Black farmers and inspiring the next generation of farmers of color.