The African savannah was the first landscape that Jessica Milgroom set her baby eyes on. Born in Kenya to parents from the United States of America, she grew up primarily in the woods of New York state. Already passionate about nature and healthy food and as a teenager, she fell in love with the seasonal cycle of the rice fields in rural Japan, and returned home to study International Agriculture at Cornell University.
Jessica´s early research in Cote D’Ivoire, the Brazilian Amazon and southern Spain was primarily agronomic. These experiences fueled her resolve that any work aimed at understanding and contributing to healthy food systems must keep the unique people who create each food system on the center stage. Driven to experiment further with the potential impact of research in society, she carried out an interdisciplinary, action-oriented PhD at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in which she documented the displacement of villages from a national park in Mozambique over four years. She recently released a documentary film about this resettlement process available at www.orphansoftheland.org.
Over the last five years, Jessica has been working as a freelance researcher, lecturer, facilitator and editor. She specialises in topics including the nexus of healthy food, land and communities, sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, policy processes, access to natural resources and resettlement. Jessica is passionate about the power of creativity to bring about social change, designing hands-on learning processes, and using stories and storytelling to transmit abstract concepts and lived experiences.
In the agroecology movement, collaboration, prioritising the wellbeing of communities and sharing knowledge is of central importance. Meaning ‘governance among equals’, sociocracy is an organising tool that facilitates effective collaboration (www.S3.org). Jessica facilitates meetings, and decision-making processes using sociocracy, as well as trains groups in how to adopt the principles and practices of sociocracy.
Actively involved in cultivating a healthy food system in her local community in southern Spain, she grows most of her own vegetables and harvests most of the fruit her family eats from her own farm. Jessica is an acro yoga teacher and an avid lover of the great outdoors. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.