Salt of the earth

Artwork donated by artist Jose Arenas

Salt of the Earth
National Encuentro

Cultivating Climate,
Food, and Land Justice

Thursday, April 20 to Saturday, April 22, 2023, Earth day

Madera Community College 30277 Ave 12.
Madera, California 93638

Join us for our upcoming national encuentro (gathering), Salt of the Earth: Cultivating Climate, Food, and Land Justice. This national encuentro will celebrate Earth Day from Thursday, April 20 to Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Madera, California, and is being organized by the American Friends Service Committee’s Pan Valley Institute.

These times call for creativity and imagination, led by those most harmed by enduring structures of violence and oppression.

Funds raised through the conference will help AFSC launch the next phase of the Pan Valley Institute (PVI)—the first-ever immigrant and refugee-led popular education center in California’s Central Valley. Now in its third decade, PVI is poised to expand and deepen its work, elevating the voices and priorities of immigrant, refugee, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and other disenfranchised Central Valley communities.


With a focus on the radical potential of cultural work that centers land, farming, cooking, and food culture, the “Salt of the Earth” encuentro will:

  • Bring recognition to the Indigenous immigrants in the region who cultivate the land that produces approximately 25% of the food that feeds the U.S. population.
  • Raise awareness surrounding food insecurity amid agricultural plenty.
  • Promote opportunities for immigrants and refugees to share experiences and build connections in working toward a just Central Valley economy.


The conference will take place in Madera, California’s Central Valley city, which is home to a significant concentration of Indigenous Mexicans who migrated to work in one of the largest agroindustry economies in the world. Indigenous farmworkers constitute a growing majority of the farm labor force there.

Learn about the impact of industrial-scale agribusiness on labor economics, migration, land ownership, and the environment. Participate in platicas (dialogues) on alternatives to agroindustry, such as small farming, cooperatives, and land stewardship. Explore guiding values and alternatives for building social justice like popular education, cultural organizing, decolonization, and advocacy.

Program highlights include Keynote speaker Carlton Turner, founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture), Hands that Forge History, a Pan Valley Institute photo exhibit documenting 20 years of work, and the cultural Kitchen A Taste of Home: Every Dish Tells a Story, featuring Hmong, Indigenous Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisine.


Special guests from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, Martha Toledo, a Zapotec singer-songwriter and cultural organizer, and Gilberto Robledo, a third-generation organic coffee producer and a member of the cooperative Oro Verde in Chiapas, Mexico.

Participate in the Getting to Know California’s Central Valley tour through the outskirts of Madera County, a theater of the oppressed workshop with Dr. Gina Sandi Diaz, and the play La Norteña, written and produced by PVI ArteVism Fellow Rodolfo Robles Cruz.

Community Alliance with Family Farmers