As part of our ongoing commitment to explore issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Vertical Harvest recently began a DEI book club — held every Tuesday from 4-5 pm. Open to all Vertical Harvest team members, the group reads and discusses books that delve into topics surrounding racism, sexism, bigotry, and ableism. The team examines one book a season, taking time to probe multiple learnings and insights.

Each week, the team focuses on certain chapters, breaking down the messages within and sharing how the words and ideas impact them personally. The final few weeks of discussion focus on taking action and planning what team members can do to impact change as dominant members of our society. 

A critical part of the meeting also is holding conversations about what change is needed within our company. We’ve discussed ways to embrace more inclusive language, reexamine the process for naming our products, and rethink visuals chosen for marketing purposes. 

This spring, the team read and discussed This Book is Antiracist, a 2020 nonfiction book by American anti-bias antiracist (ABAR) educator, and consultant Tiffany Jewell. The book, aimed at the young adult level and higher, addresses concepts of racism and proposals for anti-racist individual actions and systemic changes.

Team members learned a lot about the history and impact of racism on our country and shared their reactions. “I’ve recognized my priority now is leaving space for others (less privileged) to share their voice,” said Robin Van Houten, farm associate. 

This summer (and in honor of Pride month) the club will read about the spectrum of sexuality and the impact of homophobia and transphobia on individuals and society.