Lindsey Lunsford

Sustainable Food Systems Resource Specialist at Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension

Through her work at the Cooperative Extension, Dr. Lindsey Lunsford has a mission to provide comprehensive research-based educational programs designed for life-long learning to assist limited resource families, both urban and rural, and other groups. Among the Cooperative Extension’s objectives is to increase profitability and sustainability of small-scale farmers and landowners in Alabama and throughout the region, who continue to face production, financial and marketing challenges due to the size of their operations, as well as other historical and environmental factors. Lindsey is an emerging leader in the field of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and is also trailblazing ways to ensure Cooperative Extension’s relevance for the next generation of professionals and clients. Her leadership in the field is an example to agents looking to express their excitement and passion to make a significant contribution early on in their careers. Lindsey’s commitment to improving the lives of her clientele locally and across the nation is truly commendable.

Lindsey is a 2020 Emerging Leader in Food & Ag Award recipient and took some time to share with us what her work has looked like in the past 12 months.

Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag (EL): Tell us a little about what you’ve been up to in the last 6-12 months? How (if at all) did 2020 and all its unexpected craziness influence your work?

Lindsey Lunsford (LL): During the past 6-12 months, I have been working on convening virtual conversations and dialogues for Black farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and/or producers to gather and share their challenges, needs, and points of collaboration to prevent hunger in the Black Belt South and to provide information to regional reporters and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program. 2020 put me in more Zoom meetings than I could count, but it also taught me the power of convening intentional digital spaces to propel needed dialogue.

EL: What lessons have you learned that you are taking into 2021?

LL: It can wait. Anxiety is the real enemy. Whatever it is, the stress you are putting on it will not serve you well in the end. Also there is revolution in seeking both rest and joy. There’s nothing sexy about burnout.

EL: What’s next for you?

LL: I’m a Capricorn, so naturally it’s another hill, mountain, and/or level I’m aspiring too at all times. I’ll be looking to do some really innovative and inspiring things at Tuskegee University while working for their College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS) as a Food Systems Coordinator. We’ve got big dreams for the way food flows in the Black Belt. Stay tuned.

EL: What gives you hope for the next year? Or, alternatively, what is your greatest hope for the next year?

LL: The fact I am here right now to see it. We lost and are losing many, the gift of presence is not to be underestimated at times like these.

EL: Is there anything I should have asked you and didn’t that you would like to share here?

LL: Why is food important to me? You can’t have freedom, justice, or equity if you can’t eat. The Black Panther Party and leaders like Fred Hampton inspire me because they fed the people. I’ve always aspired to be revolutionary, you can’t do or be that if you’re not feeding anyone.


You can hear more from Lindsey and her work addressing racial equity in the food system here: