This article originally appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Elisabeth Sundberg of Sarasota, a Riverview High School grad and Bard College senior with a history of standing up for underserved groups, has won a 2022 Davis Projects for Peace prize for an initiative that addresses food insecurity in West Virginia.
The project, “Tracing The Turnrow Web: Appalachian Rising,” involves a food hub connecting 100-plus farms across West Virginia that provide fresh vegetables to local communities. Sundberg, a human rights and studio arts major, will receive a $10,000 award to build a series of collaborative arts projects that unite residents and their food systems.
Working with farmers, artists, activists, and students, Sundberg said her project will “strengthen connections between the organizations within Turnrow and those between food producers and customers and celebrate the work that the different parts of the Turnrow food hub are doing, including education, food access, and strengthening local food landscapes.”
United with farmworkers
Sundberg developed an ambition for social change in middle school after a field trip to a farmworkers rights group.
“I was raised Quaker,” Sundberg said in an email. “When I was in middle school, my parents, Ann Sundberg and Rolf Hanson, along with other Quaker adults, Dustin Lemke and Cece Yocum, [wanted] to connect us with Quakers’ historical involvement with social justice movements.”
During an immersion visit to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworker-led advocacy group, Sundberg said, “I decided to become faith allies to the CIW. The resulting organizing and activism we did while affiliated with them was my introduction to food justice.”
Sundberg is planning a two-week arts project this summer that includes the creation of a participatory mural painting, patchwork table cloth, and celebratory communal meal in each of four larger regions that Turnrow serves.
“This award holds a lot of meaning for me,” Sundberg said. ”This prize gives me the opportunity to build upon what I learned from my parents and the CIW, with my youth group and as one of their summer interns in 2018, and apply these lessons, about how to spread peace, to the project I will be doing this summer within the Turnrow network.”
A mission to improve health
Sundberg became involved with the Turnrow network while working for Sprouting Farms, a group of West Virginia farmers, educators, advocates, and entrepreneurs committed to increasing food access.
“The two summers (2019 and 2020) I spent at Sprouting Farms introduced me to the Turnrow network and their mission to improve the health of West Virginia communities and redefine Appalachia’s economy by returning to grower heritage and food traditions that helped form this region.”
Projects for Peace, which partners with educational institutions worldwide, was created in 2007 through the philanthropy of Kathryn W. Davis, an investor, painter, and political activist. The 2022 cohort includes 129 projects from 85 institutions. Each project winner will receive $10,000.
“Peace is not possible without food security and food justice,” Sundberg said. “Many small towns in West Virginia don’t have a grocery store and rely on the Dollar General chain for their groceries. It is important to acknowledge that poor eating habits are not due to ignorance about healthy food choices, but due to lack of access. Peace is promoted when everyone has the right to local, sustainable, and nutritious produce.”