Naomi Terry

Naomi researches how dynamic cultures interact with food and farming practices through migration. She is the author of the recently released report on racial justice in farming in the UK, Jumping Fences, a collaboration between Land In Our Names, Ecological Land Cooperative and Landworkers’ Alliance, funded by Farming the Future. The report presents the experiences of Black and POC farmers and growers in Britain.

She is also a gardener, ecologist, singer and educator.The 'Jumping Fences' Report: Land, Food and Racial Justice in BritainRooting en route: how migration can fix a broken food system

Describe the nature around you at the moment.

I live in south London and the nature around me is very curated, and well-tended, compared to other wilder places I have spent time in. But there is something beautiful in this tending. On my street someone has grown an avocado tree and a hibiscus tree along the pavement, probably planted by someone that wanted to bring some memories from the Caribbean. It is beautiful how plants can take on such deep meaning. When I walk through my local park, parakeets holler in the ash trees. Sometimes I holler back.

Where do you feel most at ease?

I would love to live in a green valley. There is something about living alongside a river, in a landscape that was carved out by that river that makes me feel at ease in an elemental way. Being in valleys, surrounded by hills or mountains, I feel very held by the contours, and any problems feel distant.

What barriers do Black and POC farmers and growers face in the UK?

Well, the obvious one is land. Which is unaffordable and inaccessible for many Black and POC new entrant farmers, many farmers in the UK inherit the land they work. Black and POC farmers, growers and other landworkers in Britain are working within a very white and very traditional backdrop, where the pervasive vision of what a farmer should look and behave like limits the scope for new possibilities. This can lead to being quite isolated in their work and in rural spaces. BPOC are often perceived as incompetent, unknowledgeable, or incapable which is an insidious impact of systemic racism, and the irony is that there are many BPOC migrants that live in the UK that come from farming backgrounds, and have vast amounts to contribute to better farming practices.

What do you want people to take away from the ‘Jumping Fences’ report?

Despite barriers, Black and POC farmers exist. There is no unifying story that represents their diverse experiences, but there is a growing movement of solidarity to support people from all backgrounds that want to go into land work. The exclusion of BPOC from this sector is strongly related to the exclusion of BPOC from nature in this country.

What lessons can we learn from nature?

I used to always seek out the wildest places, away from people, which took me to wildlife jobs in the Okovango Delta in Botswana, and the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, US. But I actually really love people, and meeting new strangers. I left that work realising people are not inherently problematic, we are in fact nature. So, thinking about what we can learn from nature, is also thinking what we can learn from ourselves.

Where in the past I yearned to get off the beaten path (literally), now I feel like those paths were lain there by elders’ feet for good reasons, and it might be worth following them. Take the gentle path of least resistance. Me and some friends almost attempted bashing through a new route through an impenetrable thicket recently in Jamaica, and were very gratefully guided back to the nearby path, by a gracious farmer.

What are you interested in at the moment?

Dancing and creating things that make people smile.

What kind of ancestor would you like to be?

A way-marker, a source of truth and compassion, especially for all those mixed-race kids trying to make sense of this seemingly black and white world. But to be honest, I will probably learn more from them.

Gwadloup is a little paradise with earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes, so what is the powerful manifestation of nature in your land and how do people deal with it? (Question from #TheNatureKind interview with Moïse Polobi)

Britain is a land of strong seasons, always shaped by changing weather. But her natural essence isn't always easy to see, it has been really contorted by exhausting extraction of her resources, divisions of, and exclusions from, her hillsides and forests. At some point the people lost their way and began classifying people, plants and creatures into worthy and unworthy, wild and tame. All of this is tied in with colonial exploits in other lands, and I think this is something that we are only recently coming to deal with.

What question would you like to ask to the next person on #TNK?

If the soil beneath your feet could speak, what would it say?

And could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind

Jo Yuen Pattinson - Facilitates anti-oppression workshops for environmental organisations. Sandra - Soil Sista, women on the land, in Tottenham. Dre Ferdinand – therapy and healing in nature. Obie Pearl – works at May Project Gardens, wild urban retreats, and is an amazing roller skater. Injairu Kulundu – amazing facilitator, teacher of transgression and singer. Chinelo Onwualu – speculative fiction author, themes of cli fi and afrofuturism. Gesturing Towards decolonial futures collective.

You can find out more about Naomi and the Jumping Fences Report through Instagram:





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