July 1, 2024

Iridescent Earth Collective

A Long Term Vision for Land Stewardship

Here in the Western Catskills, people are building resources to support our LGBTQ+ community in new and creative ways. Ten or twenty years ago, this level of LGBTQ+ infrastructure did not exist. Last year, Greentree Home learned about one of our local shining stars: Iridescent Earth Collective. A non-profit farm created by and for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ People of Color, Iridescent Earth Collective (IEC) embodies much of what Greentree Home dreams for in the world: sustainability, earth stewardship, LGBTQ+ rights, greater food access and investing in the health of local community. In honor of Pride month, Greentree Home decided to make a contribution to IEC, and we are excited to share more of their story with you now.


The seeds for Iridescent Earth Collective were planted years ago, when Jessica and Kitty met at New York Botanical Garden. At the time, Kitty was building on a rich background in gardening and farming, and realizing how much they enjoy teaching others through the land. Jessica was connecting with her love of plants and exploring how this passion might grow into a career. Catalyzed by the coronavirus pandemic, Kitty and Jessica started growing and donating food with their friends in 2020 and formed Iridescent Earth Collective in 2021. A Queer, Black and Latinx duo from the Bronx, Kitty and Jessica knew they wanted to stay connected to their roots – even as they moved upstate full-time to steward farmland in Delaware County.


Today, Jessica and Kitty are growing food for people in their home borough of the Bronx and beyond. For both farmers, building IEC from the ground up has been educational and healing. Kitty reflects, "being upstate and being part of this community, I've been able to engage different parts of myself that make me feel more whole." Jessica echoes this sense of purpose and fulfillment: "farming is a venue that encompasses a lot of my interests – being outside, taking care of plants, taking care of the environment, building stuff, advocacy work, distributing food as a form of helping others…I'm glad that I landed here." Amidst the atrocities and genocides plaguing our local and global communities today, Jessica finds that IEC's farming and advocacy work offer a wellspring of hope.

Grounded in the belief that food is a human right – just like clean water and air – Iridescent Earth Collective grows food for free distribution. Far from interested in making a profit from the food they grow, IEC ensures that the people taking this food home at the end of the day do not have to pay for access to nourishment. This kind of intentionality sings through all of IEC's philosophies and practices, from cultural connectedness to farming techniques. As Jessica explains, "there is a reason why we are being intentional about low tillage on our site, and using what we have to grow as much food as we have capacity for…it is not to limit we want to distribute and grow, it's more to make this sustainable for us." Sustainability truly yields abundance. Since their founding in 2021, IEC has donated more than 20,000 pounds of produce and continues to prioritize culturally relevant crops on the farm – including cabbage, collards, okra, callaloo and cilantro.

Currently, Iridescent Earth Collective collaborates with groups such as the National Young Farmers Coalition and Catskill Agrarian Alliance, as well as fellow farmers at Lucky Dog Farm, East Brook Community Farm and Berry Brook Farm, to build food security and advocate for sustainable land stewardship. As one of few Queer-run and Queer-centered spaces in the region, IEC offers an invaluable blueprint for how to uplift LGBTQ+ farmers. In addition to current farm operations, trainings and workshops, IEC is raising funds for a local food system incubator that will offer skillsharing, mentoring and community-building to young, Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ farmers making the transition from an urban to a rural area. Jessica observes, "it feels like we are right where we're supposed to be at the right time."

Iridescent Earth Collective welcomes your support as they continue building programs for young, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC farmers. Greentree Home Candle celebrates and gives thanks for Jessica, Kitty and everyone out there sustainably stewarding land, protecting wildlife, feeding our communities and, of course, keeping our precious pollinators alive.

Learn more about Iridescent Earth Collective here: @iridescent.earth.collective

BEE SUSTAINABLE: How are you supporting your local LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities, groups, businesses and organizations? Kitty and Jessica's advice is to contribute financially whenever you can. As the most marginalized communities in society – concrete, monetary support is necessary for our collective sustainability and survival.