Q&A with a food and climate justice entrepreneur
Rav Singh (B.Sc. in Natural Resource Management, 2016) is an advocate for food, climate, and environmental justice. She is the founder of Shade of Miti, a food and climate justice organization in Mississauga. We recently chatted with her about her role and the importance of creating sustainable and accessible food systems in the community.
Tell us about your company.
I’m an entrepreneur and self-employed! I run my own food and climate justice organization, called Shade of Miti, in Mississauga where I work with different communities who face oppression and/or marginalization from our climate and food systems. I work with them to build sustainable food systems that are rooted in justice and sovereignty, and not threatened by climate change. I get to do lots of cool things like run my own organic farm, host a podcast, and radio show, and lead advocacy initiatives.
What is food justice and climate justice?
Food justice and climate justice are essentially recognizing all the different elements and layers that are involved in the food and climate movements, and how these different elements/layers interact with each other. For example, in both food and climate justice, there are political, race, gender, sexuality, and economic elements. For me, the foundation of both food and climate justice is recognizing a community’s right and sovereignty over their own food and climate systems.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me starts super early! Because of all the extreme heat events we have been getting, I usually get to the farm around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning and work there until noon. At the farm, I do a lot of planting, maintenance, and harvesting. When I get home, I’ll work for another hour or two doing the boring admin and business side of the work. Or, I’ll do something more exciting and interview someone for my podcast and radio show. Then, I’ll relax until the evening when I hang-out with friends or go to my second passion-job as a pole dancer!
Can you provide an example of your work?
I’m working with a good friend of mine right now to create a multi-language tree guide. We have both faced barriers in accessing outdoor spaces in Mississauga, as well as environmental education. We are creating a tree guide that will highlight 10 common trees that can be found in the city and this information will be translated into five languages. Once the guide is released (in a few weeks!), we’ll be starting a hiking club to help get people exploring our local environment.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing shoppers at the farmers’ market get excited when they see I have organic and local veggies that they never see at a farmers’ market. There are lots of communities who feel excluded from farmers markets and lots of veggies that are also excluded. So when I bring okra, bitter melon, callaloo, and fenugreek, it helps welcome these shoppers into the space and reaffirms that this space is for them also.
What has had the biggest impact on your career?
All the amazing conversations I’ve been having through the podcast have been so inspiring and it really gives me a lot of hope for the future. It’s great to connect with other BIPOC and LGBTQ2IA+ farmers, foodies, chefs, activists, and entrepreneurs to share ideas, hopes, and dreams!
Why did you decide to study at the University of Guelph?
I decided to study at U of G because I fell in love with the campus the first time I visited! People were so welcoming, and the campus was beautiful. I liked how there were a lot of opportunities for students to get involved on campus and in the community.
What degree program did you take at U of G?
I ended up with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences.
What inspired you to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences at the U of G?
I’ve always been interested in environmental action and knew I wanted to focus on community education as my career. I decided to take environmental sciences to better understand our world and climate systems so I could provide better education and community collaboration experiences.
What is an unforgettable experience you had while at U of G?
I was involved with lots of on and off campus groups and they were all unforgettable experiences! I met so many great life-long friends and had lots of learning and growth opportunities through them.
At the last social I attended during my time with the Peer Helper Program, it really hit me what an amazing program it was, and I was so happy that I got to play a small part in it!
What’s a piece of advice you’d like to share with current students?
Your time at Guelph is not just about school and classes. I do appreciate the formal education I received in classrooms and lecture halls. I learned important lessons like how to deal with stress and mental health. The most valuable lessons I learned such as relationship-building, mutual aid, community support, etc., came from experiences I had outside of the classroom.