Cultivating Powerful Participation

Reflections from a food justice and facilitation learning experience


  • Jamie Bain University of Minnesota Extension
  • Noelle Harden University of Minnesota Extension
  • Shirley Nordrum University of Minnesota Extension
  • Ren Olive University of Minnesota Extension



Food Justice, Pedagogy, Racial Equity, Engagement, Facilitation


In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened awareness of systemic racism this past year, food systems practitioners are increasingly turning their attention toward the intersections of racial equity and the good food movement. Un­packing the racist history of the food system is a key step in this journey toward food justice, one that must be followed by intentional action bridg­ing diverse perspectives through skilled facilitation. Through a project called Cultivating Powerful Par­ticipation, the University of Minnesota Extension and food justice practitioners across Minnesota are working together to equip leaders with the neces­sary relationships, skills, and tools to cultivate a vision of food justice. In this reflective essay, we draw on our experiences leading this initiative to demonstrate the power and impact of approaching food justice through an action-oriented framework that equips community food justice leaders to become seasoned facilitators. Using themes and evaluation data from our program, we share prom­ising practices and specific facilitation methods that others can adapt to embrace a justice orientation in their work.


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Author Biographies

Jamie Bain, University of Minnesota Extension

MPH; Extension Educator, Center for Family Development

Noelle Harden, University of Minnesota Extension

MSA; Extension Educator, Center for Family Development

Shirley Nordrum, University of Minnesota Extension

Extension Educator, Center for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

Ren Olive, University of Minnesota Extension

Program Associate, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships



How to Cite

Bain, J., Harden, N., Nordrum, S., & Olive, R. (2021). Cultivating Powerful Participation: Reflections from a food justice and facilitation learning experience. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(1), 59–80.