The Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation invites you to join the “Building Beyond Nice Racism: Catalyzing Institutional Change in the Food System” program. This five-part virtual learning series in 2022, hosted by the Center and led and organized by the Racial Equity in Agriculture Lab (R.E.A.L.),  is open to student, faculty, organizational, agency, and community leaders who are seeking a deeper understanding of structural and institutional racism in our food system. The series is designed to provide a pathway to action to help dismantle the attitudes, practices, and structures that hold racism in place as a step towards creating a more equitable food system that works for everyone.

This series aims to:

  • Increase the racial literacy of agricultural and institutional leaders in the region.
  • Increase the effectiveness of diversity outreach and assistance to socially disadvantaged groups, specifically African Americans in the region.
  • Provide an essential foundation for changing attitudes and perceptions and fostering action. 

With the increased awareness of  in racial inequity by institutions and organizations focusing on equity in the food system, this program is designed to provide an essential, foundational and fundamental element for changing attitudes and perceptions. Active engagement and analytical open discussions will be encouraged. Homework and institutional activities will be shared and expected for participants to take back to their organizations.


A small fee is required for participation in this 5-month series. All payments collected will go directly to the Racial Equity in Agriculture Lab (R.E.A.L) for their efforts in providing this training program. In an attempt to make this series as inclusive and accessible as possible, we have two payment options available to cover an individual's participation in the series and access to training resources.  As a Center, we are able to subsidize the full payment substantially in order to make participation accessible. 

For those who can afford to make the full payment, we ask that you please select that option. For community organizers, under-waged workers, students, or those with limited resources, we invite you to select the limited resource payment if it helps participation in the series become accessible to you. Once you register for the series we will send payment details where you can make your selection. 

  • $100 - Full Payment for Individual Registration: This includes participation in the 5-part series and access to the training resources. 
  • $25 - Limited Resource Payment for Individual Registration: This includes participation in the 5-part series and access to the training resources. 


The program has reached capacity and registration is now closed. If you have questions, please contact Katie Trozzo at

Session Details

Session 1 : The Black (Farmer) Tax

January 25, 2022 10:00-12:00 pm ET
An in-depth insight into racial literacy and racial history specifically with black farmers and the agricultural community. This will be a micro look into the foundations and creation of laws, policies and attitudes that still persist today, that create a lingering affect of discrimination and anti-black sentiments in agriculture. An engaging, analytical walk through history, econometrics and social paradigms that provides a greater foundation for understanding to see, and identify that change is necessary.

Session 2: Race and Racism in American Agriculture

February 22, 2022 10:00-12:00 pm ET
A macrocosmic view of race and racism in agriculture that gives a macro level view of how laws of the Commonwealth from 1650 to the 1880s have affected the state of Virginia, and the state of agriculture. Exposing the racial threads of the American tapestry and outlooks of the founding fathers that continue to shape and influence conservative, liberal and independent views and perspectives.

Session 3: Structural Inequity: Urban Renewal, Redlining and Oppression in the Built Environment

March 22, 2022 10:00-12:00 pm ET
A provocative look into the creation of the environments that have decimated cultural standards, communities and standards of sacred community. A walk through local urban Virginia history, highlighting the destruction of vibrant black communities and institutions for the sake of urban ‘renewal and development.’

Session 4: Institutional Solutions

April 26, 2022 10:00-12:00 pm ET
Building on what is shared in session 4, participants will again participate in an interactive, engaging, challenging mode of personal and professional improvements to enhance racial literacy in their organizations. The facilitators will perform racial literacy and equity audits for the organizations participating to expose what can be done to make these institutions better in the short or long term. Seeds will be planted to create a viable harvest in 2022. How do we uplift racially equitable policy solutions and roll out programs in our community?

Session 5: Institutional Solutions and Marching Orders (What I can and will do)

May 24, 2022 10:00-12:00 pm ET
Utilizing the information and foundation of the seed planting session to assist in creating specific, targeted remedies and strategies institutions should institute to affect and create change. Participants in these sessions will need to fully participate in the conversations and brainstorming sessions based on the cues provided by the facilitators. It will force participants to move out of their personal and professional comfort zones to execute change in their organizations.

About R.E.A.L.

Shantell Bingham works to cultivate equitable strategies from the ground-up in local and regional food systems on the East Coast through grassroots community organizing, coalitions, and academic institutions. She has served on steering committees for Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, built food justice coalitions in Charlottesville, VA, and worked regionally as a member of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network’s Community Ownership, Empowerment and Prosperity Action Team. Shantell has conducted research internationally in post-apartheid South Africa, where she sought to understand systems of oppression, social transformation, and health outcomes. In 2015, she was awarded the Dalai Lama Fellowship to study compassionate, ethical leadership and social entrepreneurship. In 2018 was appointed to the Human Rights Commission in Charlottesville where she served two terms as chair guiding work to strengthen the city’s ability to tackle housing and employment discrimination. She is a 2018 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award nominee and a 2019 Charlottesville top 10 under 40 recipient. In 2020, she was awarded the Castanea Fellowship joining a cohort of other food system leaders working for a racially just food system in any of the areas of: health, environment, agriculture, regional economies, or community development. A great granddaughter to NC tobacco sharecroppers, she believes every human is endowed with the right to self-determination in our food system. Shantell holds a B.A. in Global Development Studies and an MPH from the University of Virginia.

Michael Carter Jr. is an 11th generation American/farmer, and is the 5th generation to farm on Carter Farms, his family’s century farm in Orange County, Virginia, where he gives workshops on how to grow and market ethnic vegetables. With Virginia State University, he is the Small Farm Resource Center Coordinator for the Small Farm Outreach Program. Virginia Association of Biological Farmers (VABF) and Virginia Foodshed Capital have him sit on their respective board of directors. He also serves as the state coordinator for the Black Church Food Security Network and as the food safety coordinator for the Six State Farm to Table organization. He acquired an agricultural economics degree from North Carolina A&T State University and has worked in Ghana, Kenya and Israel as an agronomist and organic agricultural consultant. As a cliometrician, curriculum developer, and program coordinator for his educational, cultural, and vocational platforms, Hen Asem (Our Story) and Africulture, he teaches and expounds on the contributions of Africans and African Americans to agriculture worldwide and trains students, educators and professionals in African cultural understanding, empathy, and implicit bias recognition. Michael is also a Fellow of the VT Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.

Duron Chavis is the founder and director of Happily Natural Day, a Richmond-based non-profit organization engaged in innovative and dynamic initiatives around the topics of urban agriculture and local food systems in a culturally relevant way. Duron started his career in community advocacy first as a volunteer then an employee of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. While there he founded the highly acclaimed Happily Natural Day festival as a grassroots effort to supplement the summer jazz concert that was held annually at the institution. The festival is a weekend long experience that focuses on cultural awareness, health, wellness and social change. In 2009, Chavis launched the Richmond Noir Market, a Saturday farmer’s market targeting low-income communities located in what the USDA has designated as food deserts in Richmond, Virginia. 2012 marked the development of his first community garden; which subsequently led to the development of urban farms, urban orchards, urban vineyards and work in poverty mitigation, workforce development, health and racial equity. Chavis has received numerous accolades for his work. He served in 2011 as a Clean Air Ambassador on behalf of Earthjustice and the Hip Hop Caucus. He is an alumni of Leadership Metro Richmond’s class of 2011, received Style Weekly’s Top 40 under 40 award in 2010, and the Style Weekly Power List in 2014 & 2015. Chavis served as the inaugural director of the Harding Street Urban Ag Center; a recreation center repurposed into an indoor farm by VSU. Chavis is currently leading the Resiliency Garden and “Black Space Matters” Initiative in partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Richmond. Duron is also a Fellow of the VT Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Katie Trozzo at or 540-231-4582 at least 10 days prior to the event.