Featured Leader: Eva Moss

FSLN Network Weaver Eva Moss shares more about herself and her perspectives in this Featured Leader piece. Eva is currently a farm law educator with Farm Commons and is based on the Keyauwee and Catawba ancestral lands, commonly known as North Carolina. Eva comes from a long line of makers and growers rooted in the soils of Samoa, Alabama, and West Virginia. She shows up to her work as a farm law educator with the experience of having managed her own small farm business through lots of ups and downs, as well as inspiration and guidance from studies in cultural anthropology, geology, permaculture, and agricultural law.

Thank you, Eva, for sharing more about who you are in this Featured Leader piece and for bringing creativity and intentionality to all that you do!

Your Leadership Journey

Who are you? (Beyond the job title!)
I’m a wide open idealist and hard core believer in the spirit that works hard at cultivating healthy boundaries! My personal practices include home herbalism, knitting, sourdough baking, jam making, running, learning Samoan (my ancestral language), and collecting way more books than I have time to read. Can you tell that I’m a Gemini yet?!

What inspired you to get involved in food systems work?
I was drawn into food systems work by a deep desire to connect with others and myself through the medium of food — learning how to grow it and growing for myself and others. At the beginning of my journey I felt really far away from myself and as a consequence I felt anxious about my ability to meaningfully connect with others. Through food systems work, I learned so much more about the inherent worth and value in a plant, a blossom, a leaf, a fruit, and eventually, I saw that light in myself and others too.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I am so grateful to Melissa Scanlan, currently director of the Center for Water Policy at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for encouraging me to deeply and critically engage with the law in order to find opportunities for creativity and change.

What does food systems leadership mean to you?
To me leadership in food systems work looks like deep listening, open curiosity, constructive communication, and healthy relationships supporting actions that leverage real change. It also means being able to see oneself in others.

What’s your greatest leadership challenge now, and what are you looking for support for?
Right now a top challenge in my work as a farm law educator is navigating the limits of virtual programming. We all get tired of Zoom meetings, but with the ongoing limitations of the pandemic virtual is what we’ve got and I’d love to connect with others who are designing virtual curricula with the goals of engagement, innovation, empowerment, and creativity.

What are you most excited about in your work?
I’m really excited about our upcoming virtual workshop, Discovering Resilience! It’s a 5-week highly engaging curriculum that teaches farmers and ranchers the 10 legal best practices for resilience on the farm. It’s always fun meeting new producers from across the country and learning from their experiences managing business decisions and legal risk on their farms!

What’s something about you (a fun fact!) that not many of your colleagues know or that we wouldn’t expect from you?
I was born in Auckland, Aotearoa NZ and am a citizen of NZ, USA, and Samoa, thanks to my very, very organized parents. I guess a penchant for paperwork runs in the family?

Similarly, how are you most misunderstood?
Usually folks assume I’m an attorney because I teach farm law! Funny enough, I am not an attorney and I don’t have a J.D. degree. I am a farmer who got her master’s in agriculture law and policy, and I am grateful to have learned just as much from managing a farm business through a divorce as I did spending a year studying law books.

Reflections on the Network Weaver Role

What is your network weaving superpower that you’re bringing with you in this role and that you’re excited to share with this network?
Enormous optimism and podcast production skills.

What is one thing you hope to take with you from your weaving experience?
Deeper connections with network members from around the country.

Reflections on 2020

A lot happened in 2020. What is one lesson that you’ll carry with you or a piece of advice you’d like to send forward? 
Feelings don’t dictate outcomes.

COVID is impacting the food system in a number of ways, and in some cases, one can argue that more attention is being paid to the value and resiliency of local and regional food systems. What is one change you’re hoping to see to the US food system and how do you think we can get there?
I am hopeful that there will be more federal and state investment in regional food infrastructure — food hubs, grain mills, cooperative markets, and the like. Throughout the pandemic, we continue to see how vulnerable global and national supply chains are, and how resilient regional food systems can be. Imagine if our regional food infrastructure had as much financial and infrastructural support as national and global supply chains!

Discussions around America’s past and present-day systemic racism have caused many to consider how to build anti-racist food systems. How might those involved in the movement for equitable food systems ride this momentum to reach this goal?
I think the key is to keep conversations with as many stakeholders as possible going so we can continue to grow collective visions for anti-racist food systems. I think the other key is to intentionally operationalize learnings as soon as possible.
Speaking of… when you imagine an equitable and anti-racist food system, what do you envision?
I envision land back to indigenous people. I envision full restitution to the descendants of those whose ancestors were abused and oppressed. I envision everyone having equal access to wholesome foods and nutrition education, and growers having full support of local markets and regional food infrastructure. I envision farm law being driven by and for farmers themselves, where healthy business relationships are supporting sound legal agreements.

Time for some real talk …

Burn out. It’s a thing, and social change is a long game. Have you found ways to balance taking care of yourself with your commitment to creating more equitable food and social systems?
Making time and space for creativity (making something because it brings joy) by myself and with others has been key for me to maintain a healthy sense of self. I personally don’t believe in balance. I believe things flow in and out like the tide. Things are never even, but there’s a push and a pull. I have to push myself to get my work done within a certain time period because my desire to create is pulling me in. I think its more about health boundaries than balance for myself.

What is one change would you like to see that might encourage more folks to enter and stay in this work for the long haul?
I would love to see more opportunities for creativity within the food systems field of work. I often observe folks stepping into pre-established systems with all their merits and pitfalls, and their creativity is limited to the time left over after putting out fires and keeping the lights on. I am grateful to my organization for prioritizing creativity in our approach to farm law education, and I also am grateful to FSLN for the opportunity to get creative with programming for the network through the Weavers cohort!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Leader, News and Announcements, Uncategorized


Leave a Reply