Values & Definitions

Pie Ranch Values 

Respect — At Pie Ranch we practice respect of the soil, plants, animals, and people we work with. Active listening, treating others with kindness, and honoring difference (by this we mean acknowledging each person’s experience is their own and is valid) are all ways of practicing respect.

Justice — Pie Ranch is committed to justice of all kinds and organizes its work around food justice specifically.

Food justice means providing access to good food for all people, regardless of social or economic constraints. It means putting control of food production into the hands of the people who are eating it, thus creating local jobs and small businesses centered around food production and marketing. It also means understanding the deeper systemic problems that cause the current food system to leave poor people underserved. Food justice reframes the lack of healthy food sources in poor communities as a human rights issue. Food justice is inspired by historical grassroots movements and organizing traditions such as those developed by the civil rights movement and the environmental justice movement. The food justice movement advances self-reliance and social justice by acknowledging that community leadership is the way to authentic solutions.

From Planting Justice: Some contexts in which communities are affected by food injustice include inner city residents who do not have access to affordable, nutritious food; farm laborers who are exposed to dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilizers; small farmers, especially small farmers of color, who are systematically disenfranchised from government subsidies; communities whose water and food is contaminated by industrial chemicals and hormones as a result of factory farming; cultures whose ancestral crops are now endangered and whose traditional ingredients are hard to find; and farmers throughout the Global South whose markets are flooded by overwhelming quantities of subsidized industrial crops, thereby driving down the price they can get for food grown for local consumption.

Food Justice is closely linked to Food Sovereignty, a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996, that asserts the right of people to define their own food systems. Advocates of food sovereignty put the individuals who produce, distribute and consume food at the center of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the corporations and market institutions they believe have come to dominate the global food system.

Love — The definition of love that we gravitate towards is: “an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” (from Merriam-Webster).

Pie Ranch grounds its work in the love of the soil, plants and community. The word love embodies our commitment to cultivating crops with sustained attention to the interconnectedness of all life and to cultivating healthy, resilient, and informed communities that can thrive. In the words of our heroes:


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Love… is based on the willingness to go to any lengths to restore or create community.
—Grace Lee Boggs
Where there is love there is life.
—Mahatma Gandhi
To work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power…if we grow into our adult years without knowing how to love, how then can we create social movements that will end domination, exploitation, and oppression?
—bell hooks
In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.
—Baba Dioum


Responsible Stewardship — Responsible Stewardship is taking care of our natural resources, human relationships, and financial resources to ensure that they are sustainably regarded and managed for current and future generations. We embrace the seventh generation concept that urges the current generation of humans to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future. It originated with the Iroqouis — Great Law of the Iroquois — which holds appropriate to think seven generations ahead (about 140 years into the future) and decide whether the decisions they make today would benefit their children seven generations into the future.

Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation, writes: "We are looking ahead, as is one of the first mandates given us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make relate to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come. . . .What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have?"

Empowerment — Empowerment is the process of marginalized people obtaining opportunities, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized others who share their own access to these opportunities. It also includes actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities. Empowerment also includes encouraging and developing the skills for self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. 

Collaboration — The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts. Our best work is done when we are actively collaborating with individuals, organizations, schools, companies, and institutions to achieve our mutually agreed upon goals.

Diversity — At Pie Ranch we strive for ecological diversity on the farm and social diversity in our organization and in the communities with which we work. The concept of social diversity means having a commitment to increasing our awareness and respect for each other’s diverse histories and backgrounds in order to foster stronger teamwork in the field. We work to create and maintain a safe and comfortable atmosphere – one in which every apprentice, staff person, and program participant knows that they are equally treated and their background honored, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and/or age. 


Literature and websites that have helped inform our Strategic Planning Process

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits
by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant 

The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
by Grace Lee Boggs

Non Profit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability
by Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman

"Using Emergence to Take Social Innovations to Scale"
by Margaret Wheatley & Deborah Frieze

Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love by bell hooks

The Responsible Business by Carol Sanford