Farming While Black: A Vermont Conversation - *FREE* GMFF Special Event

Farming While Black: A Vermont Conversation - *FREE* GMFF Special Event

📣 Announcing our *FREE* GMFF Special Events! 

Farming While Black: A Vermont Conversation

Saturday, 3/16 @ 2:30-3:15pm – Savoy Upstairs Theater [ORCA Media Livestream Link]

>> Film info and FREE online screening link here <<

Directly after the Saturday 1pm screening of FARMING WHILE BLACK, reflect on the movement and listen to a moderated panel discussion with Vermont’s Black farmers who are members of the Vermont Releaf Collective: Farmer James Key of Farmer James’ Apiculture, Hazel Adams-Shango of The Flying Buffalo, LLC (Lamoille County), Khonsu X of Ezili’s Respite Farm & Sanctuary, L3C (Groton), and Claudel ‘Zaka’ Chery of Calabash Gardens (Wells River). Moderator: Elizabeth Hewitt. Questions from the audience if time allows.


Hazel Adams-Shango is the the Co-Founder, Production Manager and "Momager" of a small family market garden farm, The Flying Buffalo LLC, located in Lamoille County, Vermont, which produces naturally grown vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs. She is currently sharing this life experience with her three adult children and grandson. The farm is totally off-grid and all seeds are non-GMO, Heirloom, and hand sown. Farming with her family is the latest adventure Hazel has chosen to engage in. 

Hazel Adams-Shango

During the 1990s, she served as a publicly elected official in Washington, DC as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the Adams-Morgan community as well as being the founder of A Place in the Sun Parent Collective, which assisted parents of children with special needs identify economic alternatives to meet their financial needs not covered by health insurance or public programs.

Since 2000 until 2020,  Hazel served on the NYC District 11 Community Education Council and in several positions within the NYC Department of Education, including Regional Parent Engagement Officer, Student Enrollment Officer, and Education Analyst. 

She is also the Founder and CEO of an independent Parent Advocacy business, of Choice, which has assisted over 50+ NYC families secure tuition payments and service reimbursements valued at approximately $2 million dollars on behalf of specialized private school placement for their children with disabilities.

Presently, Hazel enjoys planning and working on the family farm as well as continuing to mentor and educate parents on how to become more effective advocates on behalf of their children. She is currently working on a series of e-books on the Art of Parent Advocacy.

She and her family have presented at the 2023 NOFA Summer Conference in Worcester, MA on the topic of Reparations , BIPOC Land Access, and Family Legacy as well as a recent panel participant  2024 NOFA-VT Winter Conference on Building Farm Resilience and Adaptation.

The Flying Buffalo LLC has coined a saying which sums up their Farming while Black experience thus far....

"Go where you Grow and Grow where you Go!!"

Claudel Zaka Chery, a Haitian poet and film director, moved to Newbury from Jacmel-Haiti in 2011. He was the assistant to the director of FOSAJ, Flo McGarrell. Both Mr. McGarrell and Zaka ran the Jacmel art center with great energy and taste. On 12 January 2010, his beloved country of Haiti entered a nightmare from which there was no hope of waking. 316,000 people died in the 37 seconds that an earthquake moved just under the surface of the island. Among them was the person who had come to be both father and mother to him, his protector, his dearest friend, the American sculptor Flo McGarrell, buried under the ruins of the Peace of Mind hotel.

Claudel Zaka Chery

The earthquake devastated Zaka’s life and plans, he was working on a film about water, and had arranged to climb into the hills above Jacmel and film around a waterfall where the people live and work around. This would never come to pass, for reasons of force majeure. Nonetheless ideas that are truncated re-emerge in other settings, sometimes with even more force and beauty. The late poet Ann and painter James McGarrell, exposed him to a worldwide range of culinary arts, including cookbooks, techniques and Mediterranean spices. In the kitchen of their early nineteenth century home, whilst there, in Newbury  he honed his interest on peculiar taste, spices, and cuisines.

Jette and Zaka met in the spring of 2015 and in 2017 the two were married beginning the journey of their dream farm in Newbury Vermont, staying close to aging relatives. Determined to involve themselves directly in the basic daily process of living from and for the earth and each other, saffron became the crop of choice. Calabash Gardens is now the largest saffron farm in North America and continues to strive for knowledge, regeneration, carbon sequestration and financial sustainability. 

James Key is the Director-at-large on the Vermont Beekeepers Association board of directors. Education: B.A. from Norwich University, Self-Designed Major, with a focus on Ethno-Botanicals and their Healing Properties. 

James Key

"I've been published with a couple of articles related to the subject. Before my present career, I was in the food industry, selling food to all of the Hannaford stores in Chittenden County. Also, supplying the now largest health food stores, Healthy Living and City Market.

"Over the last 9 years before Covid, I worked in the lab at UVM Medical Center. My work there ended when the outbreak began, during the Spring of that year. While working at the Hospital, my interest in beekeeping began, out of trying to solve the problem of why there wasn't a presence of honey bees around my garden. 

"I began over the winter of 2017 to seriously focus on my quest. I started in the spring of 2018 taking a class from a woman in Williamstown and, during that same year, joined the VBA.

"I met Ross Conrad a year later and was met with a promise to share at any time the knowledge of Beekeeping. He offered not only that but free classes because of his knowledge of my finances and his inspiration to see me become Vermont's first, African-American Certified Beekeeper.  With his help and the others who have become great mentors, Andrew Munkres, Michael Palmer, and Bill Mares, I've achievedmy Vermont BeeKeeper's Certification in two years. ago. 

"I've been using bees from Andrew Munkres since and will continue to work with them. I use his technique and other IPM techniques, developing them as I gain knowledge.I use knowledge from Ross, Bill, and Mike's double Nuc method and the books recommended. The list of things learned and being learned is continuing to grow. I'm a full-time beekeeper, working with 18+ colonies and a manager of hives for "Back Yard" Beekeepers."

Khonsu X

Khonsu X is a community organizer, transmission artist and co-steward of Ezili’s Respite Farm & Sanctuary, L3C, est. 2022, on 13.4 acres of unceded Abenaki Land in the Upper Valley of Vermont. In addition to Harm Reduction Heroes(c) peer-mentorship programs, hunting & foraging, responsibilities include cultivating perennial & medicinal food sources, raising heritage breed chickens, guineas, and small ruminants. Khonsu holds a B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College with a minor in Film Studies and concentrations in Creative Writing and Gender & Sexuality Studies. He studied Writing for Film & TV at the University of the Arts and Veterinary Technology at Colorado Mountain College. As an Afro-ecologist and Afro-pessimist, his art and farming practices are intricately linked to his spiritual and philosophical lens on the world. through his experiences as a queer Black man traveling across Turtle Island, always ending up in the mountains, he has learned that farming (and kayaking) is harm reduction.

Elizabeth Hewitt

Panel moderator Elizabeth Hewitt is a journalist from Central Vermont. As a reporter, she's explored the intersections between the food system and social and environmental issues, in Vermont, other parts of the US, and in Europe. Her stories have been published in outlets including Reasons To Be Cheerful, Next Avenue, Civil Eats, National Geographic and others. She has a master's in journalism from New York University. She is a former editor and reporter for

More panelist info forthcoming.


Vermont Releaf Collective

Additional Sponsors: Rural Vermont, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, food and Markets, and Zenbarn.