Fatuma Emmad was born in Denver Colorado, the child of immigrants from Ethiopia and Yemen. Her family returned to Ethiopia when she was nine years old and the wars that had pushed her family out seemed to come to an end. Traveling between Ethiopia and the United States had a profound impact on Fatima, particularly in the ways that food operated within these two worlds. Growing up, she could not understand how her other home symbolized famine when she saw a country that was topographically diverse, had rich soil, an ancient history of land stewardship, and remained a place being sought out by foreign interests for agricultural investments.
Fatuma followed an academic path of political science and focused on the macro economic and geo political questions that fostered a world system in which certain countries were deemed to be and historically made to be food insecure. Specifically, Fatuma focused on the history of colonization in Africa and the biased underpinnings that fostered the spread of the green revolution and the current spread of GMOs into East Africa. She has been an advocate of seed saving and retaining the rights of indigenous grains that are being patented by corporations across the world.
Fatuma left the world of academia to become a farmer and learn appropriate technologies of organic and bio intensive production so that she could demonstrate tangible alternative methods to farmers in East Africa and learn about traditional farming practices from them. She is certified in agro-ecology through the University of California Santa Cruz but has found her greatest education through farming for ten years, learning from her elders, and valuing traditional scientists.
She is currently the Director of Urban Farms for Groundwork Denver where she oversees over three acres across Denver, runs pay what you can farmsteads in her communities, and aims to make the farms self sustaining through sales to restaurants. Fatuma’s goals are to bring attention to the value of farmers and their localized knowledge and to let people know that they also always deserve the best of food regardless of their economic privileges.