Our mission at TradeRoots is to connect people with the land, each other, and their roots.
TradeRoots is a Madison-based group of farmers and chefs with roots in Wisconsin and West Africa. Beginning in 2021, we’re growing and cooking with crops of cultural relevance to the African diaspora in the Madison area. Our farming projects, products, and culinary events highlight the entire life cycle of locally grown heritage varieties of veggies and grains within the context of diversified small-scale farming in southern WI. Our goal is to develop viable approaches to urban farming, cooking, food preservation, and value-added processing that are accessible to everyday people and help mitigate the increasingly severe economic hardship in our city.
In the short term, we are launching growing and culinary projects in collaboration with local farmers, chefs, and people from all walks of life whose perspectives keep us grounded in the immediate needs of the community and geared toward addressing the everyday social and economic struggles we face during these times of pandemic and climate crisis. From pop-up street plantings that grow sweet potatoes, okra, and tomatoes to small fields of heritage grains at the edge of town, our initial projects are focused on finding ways to repurpose land and materials into versatile and resilient urban gardens and to distribute the harvest to people who need it most in the form of affordable ready-made meals and value-added products. Our long-term vision is to empower historically marginalized communities in Madison and beyond with the skills needed to grow and preserve their own food, keep their own seeds, and turn vacant space in the cityscape into productive and ecologically minded small farms. By establishing an idea-sharing platform and farmer exchange program between Wisconsin and West Africa, we hope to build a shared knowledge and resource base that connects people with their roots and inspires and supports food sovereignty, material self-reliance, and innovations in sustainable farming in both places.