Skip to main content

The WCMGA DEI Committee is a group of Washington County Master Gardeners who are working to help the chapter grow our efforts in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  We developed the WCMGA land acknowledgment that is read at chapter meetings and is posted at both our demonstration gardens, as well as accessibility and inclusivity assessments for our public events and volunteers.  (Accessibility and Inclusivity assessments available below.)

We meet in person at the Washington County OSU Extension Office on the second Tuesday of each month from 10am to 11am.  We invite WCMGA members to join us!

Please contact Larina Hoffbeck at for more information.

Throughout 2024, the WCMGA DEI committee will be highlighting terms and phrases relevant to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts in this spot.  We plan to feature a different term or phrase each month, so please check back throughout the year!

April, 2024: Food Sovereignty

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”
Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

To explore more terms relevant to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, please visit Cornell University’s DEI Glossary here:

Photo Credits:  Sher Diwata

Scorched Earth


By Sher


Ukraine, Palestine, but have you heard of what’s going on in Burma? If you have, when was the last time you thought of the people of Burma? Burma has had infighting and civil war for 76 years—since 1948. Three years ago, in an attempted coup, the military created a pseudo-government and began operating in opposition to the standing government. This made things worse for the Burmese when they intensified ethnic cleansing and continued to force ethnic minorities out of their country into adjacent lands.

I knew little about this problem until I spent two weeks in Thailand with the US Campaign for Burma, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. I flew into Bangkok and then Chaing Mai. Once there, we spent most of our time driving five to seven hours in the mountainous winding roads of Thailand to meet with one to three organizations a day that comprised Burmese refugees—I got car sick almost every day. Our team consisted of two other women and our driver. We weren’t supposed to talk about what we were doing there until we were out of Thailand, not only for our safety but also for the people we were meeting with. People have been known to disappear.

I was the designated note taker and asked questions where appropriate. There are many issues and organizations (refugee camps, humanitarian aid, education, women’s issues, different ethnic groups, etc), but the major topics seemed to be fourfold: the need for humanitarian aid, getting US  sanctions put on jet fuel due to air raids, removing the Burmese military from Burmese politics, and moving forward with a federal democratic government. Out of these four, the attacks on civilians, particularly the airstrikes on villages, is what I want to address today.

Throughout my trip, I saw many photographs and videos of people actively fleeing violence—leaving their homes with nothing but what they could carry through the jungle. Not only did children have to be carried and cared for, but elders were also carried and helped to navigate the rough terrain. My interest piqued when I heard the refugees were “allowed to return”. This made little sense to me, so I asked more questions.

Refugees are “allowed” to return to their villages only after the army has planted landmines. And if refugees can navigate their way back, the military goes further by methodically destroying crops. This is increasingly devastating for crops that are required to dry for harvesting, such as rice fields—a staple in many cultures. Any portion of the fields that catch fire easily spread to the rest of the crops. Entire fields (and the year of effort used to nurture those plants) go up in flames, leaving nothing for the working farmer, their family, or their community. “Destroying …  farming is really clear that [the State Administration Council—the Burmese military junta] is destroying the means of humanity. This forces people to be in hunger. And this hunger can put peoples’ lives in danger. [Therefore], destroying the means of human beings,” said Banya Khun Aung, the Founder and Director of Karenni Human Rights Group and the Secretary II at the Interim Executive Council of Karenni State.

And this is only one small portion of how the Burmese military systematically discriminates against ethnic minorities. The Burmese military also engages in aerial bombings of civilian hospitals, schools, and churches; mass executions, murders and burials; sexual violence; torture; and the list goes on. Such atrocities go under the radar of the global majority because our attention gets pulled to newer conflicts, such as the Russo-Ukrainian War and Israel-Hamas Conflict. As Burma continues this 70+ year civil war, each year’s casualty count adds to each year before it.

As Master Gardeners, one of the issues we highlight is food sovereignty. So many of our fellow beings don’t have a fraction of the privileges we do in the United States. We are able to grow our own food (either on land or containers) and what varieties. And if not, go to the grocery of our choice and choose items from a variety of brands. The complications continue, not only with food, but with so many other things when people cross over borders seeking safe refuge in a neighboring country. The least we can do is educate ourselves about what is happening to our fellow humans in that part of the world.

Find out more about what is happening in Burma at or read more about these airstrikes here in the New York Time’s article: The Country That Bombs Its Own People.