Sophia Buggs opened this year’s Food Justice Series, hosted by The Robert A. Macoskey Center, on Tuesday with her inspiring talk on being an urban farmer and how to be a better self through food.
Sophia, or Lady Buggs, is the proprietor and operator of Lady Buggs Farm, a 1.3 acre urban farm located on the south side of Youngstown, Ohio. She makes it her mission to reclaim the sacred roots of farming through sustainable spiritual living and to revitalize her community by offering fresh and natural food from seed to table.
“Farming is the most lucrative and healing job,” Buggs said.
Her journey to become an urban farmer started in a difficult time, both financially and spiritually, and Buggs turned to nature to find a solution in both aspects. Returning to her hometown in Ohio, she decided to remake her grandmother’s zucchini bread with zucchinis that she would grow in her backyard. Container growing in kitty pools later advanced to growing plants in deserted lots which eventually progressed to her own farm. Buggs shared her produce with friends, family and her community.
“The medicine we bring to the planet is food,” Buggs said.
Her lessons go beyond food. Buggs encouraged students to be different in a society caught up with being the same.
“Your difference becomes a problem when you are not being different amongst others,” Buggs said.
She took the millions of organisms in the soil as an example, telling students to find their purpose and joy. Buggs talked about inclusion and how important it is to include everyone from her own experience.
“To move forward with a brilliant idea, one needs to ask permission from everyone,” Buggs said.
When growing the delicious Ohio native fruit paw paws, Buggs realized that bees and butterflies shouldn’t be the only insect friends she allows in her farm. Flies were the ones that will help the paw paws to prosper and, despite what she thought before, she learned that they needed to be included.
Buggs also shared a story about her connection with a young girl Isabella. The ten-year-old loved nature and had a substantial amount of knowledge on it. Buggs formed a relationship with her, spending time spotting wildflowers and praying mantises together. Buggs said she found hope in the next generation of human beings, reassured that nature will always be an important part of life.
As an urban farmer whose daughter is also in the food industry, Buggs called on everyone to treat food workers right. She encouraged students to be the change that is needed to create a just food system, to appreciate the work of food workers and to work towards better food policies and a better future.
Buggs also addressed SRU students to perform self-care, which means eating healthy and having healthy relationships.
She quoted Esther Hicks, “The greatest gift you can ever give another person is your own happiness,” calling on students to take care of themselves.
Buggs, speaking from her own experience, said that creating joy and happy experiences is catchy for other people and that being the change begins with nature.
Buggs encourages others while she is working on her farm to create these experiences, to begin change with the small things in our lives.