Read this article by Chris Newman of Sylvanaqua Farms for democracy in food and agriculture. An excerpt with some of the nitty gritty:
While other nations adopt quotas and other imperfect systems to moderate the supply of food with something more humane than unregulated free markets, the U.S. is still stuck in a Butzian hellscape of planting fencerow to fencerow just because we have the land for it. Amid chronic oversupply, during national/global emergencies or complete calm, we continue to bail out farmers, most of whom are near-millionaires (including our vaunted “small family farmers”), year after year after year. Agriculture and Defense are the only industries in America that enjoy a perennial, unconditional bailout. And they get it because they are, together, the foundation of American Imperialism.
Chris Newman is an ehakihet (farmer/land-protector) in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Acts of kindness to continue this work are always appreciated on Venmo @sylvanaquafarms
For more on the issue, listen to this episode of 1619 from the New York Times:
Land and Freedom Now: Collective Action for Black Land Liberation Friday, June 19th, 1:00 PM EST/10:00 AM PST Click for details
Featuring: Savi Horne, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project Clark R. Arrington, General Counsel for The Working World Ed Whitfield, Co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC) Joe Brooks, Senior Fellow at PolicyLink Noah McDonald, Farmer, land steward, and independent researcher working with Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON) Moderated by: Noni Session, Executive Director of the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative Hosted by: House of Ease
Centering Indigenous Sovereignty on Stolen Land: Indigenous Consultation and Land Access Tuesday, June 30th, 2:30 PM EST/11:30 AM PST Click for details
Featuring: Chuck Sams, founder, Indian Country Conservancy Peter Forbes, Knoll Farm, First Light Learning Journey Hosted by: Stephanie Morningstar, Stephanie Morningstar, Coordinator, Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust
CELEBRATING LGBTQAI+ FARMERS Saturday, June 20, 1:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST Click for details
June is the month to celebrate LGBTQAI+ farmers and ranchers as we commemorate the Stonewall uprising of June 1969. Join us for storytelling and connection with Karen Washington of Rise & Root Farm and Edgar Xochitl of Hummingbird Farm.
Additionally, here is a list of resources from Agrarian Trust to “do the work to become antiracist”:
CHECK OUT this incredible resource and guide for addressing and dismantling racism in the food system, galvanizing the movement for land and racial justice, written by the illustrious folks at Soul Fire Farm.
Thank you to Nora Feldhusen, Organizing Committee Member of the Hudson Valley Young Farmers Coalition, for recently circulating the document. In her words, this “is a great resource for considering how we can move towards food sovereignty, centering BIPOC communities. In particular, a great starting point in this document is section #5 on Internal Organizational Transformation for actionable ways to build more equity and antiracist practices into our farms and organizations.”
Watch this 15-minute documentary from The Atlantic, How Black Americans Were Robbed of Their Land — based on Vann R. Newkirk’s article, “The Great Land Robbery.” Description from the Atlantic below:
Over the course of the 20th century, black Americans have lost approximately 12 million acres of land. This mass land dispossession—a war waged by deed of title, which has affected 98 percent of black farmers—can only be called theft, says Atlantic writer Vann R. Newkirk II in a new documentary.
The Scott family, from Mound Bayou, Mississippi, can trace their land ownership back to 1938, when the family’s agriculturally gifted patriarch began amassing more than 1,000 acres. By the late ‘80s, the Scotts had all but lost their land entirely. What happened in those intervening years is a complex story of systematic discrimination that’s emblematic of the experience of many black families in America.
“If you look at the Scotts, what the land meant to them wasn’t just money,” Newkirk says in the film. “It was destiny. It was something to hold onto. It was a purpose and something that held their family together through generations.”
“The number of black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889. Today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black, according to new figures from the US Department of Agriculture released [April 2019]. They own a mere 0.52% of America’s farmland. By comparison, 95% of US farmers are white.”
This article, published in The Guardian April 29, 2019 and written by Summer Sewell, shares the history of the land and the story of the life of John Boyd Jr., victor of the first-ever discrimination law suit against the USDA in 1997.
“The successful investigation on Boyd’s behalf prompted other black farmers to come forward with their stories, and in 1995 Boyd founded the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) after meeting with many black farmers and hearing similar USDA experiences.”
Inequality ensues today:
“The NBFA grant recipient Michael Coleman, 25, runs 14 head of cattle in Mississippi and majors in animal science at Alcorn State University, a historically black school. “These white cattle farmers are so much ahead of us it’s like we’re playing catch-up. They already know how to get the grant money, they already have old money,” Coleman says. “I mean, my dad was a sharecropper who worked 40 years in a factory 12 hours a day. Growing up, my father didn’t know about these programs.” Nearly half of all black-owned farms are cattle operations, but with so few black farmers overall, the crowds at livestock markets are mostly white. “I haven’t been called out my name,” he says, using slang for a racial slur, “but I’m not too sure how they treat or price the animals once they figure out you’re a black farmer,” Coleman says.”
Taking Action to Support Black-led Organizations on the Land
How do we engage the energy of this moment? Steeped in historical, legal and social disenfranchisement, the ongoing violence against black lives calls for long term, place-based and collaborative work. What would it look like to be in solidarity with all life? What would it look like to reimagine the commons*?
We need a “commoning” of privilege and wealth, a systemic transformation that counters the great “uncommoning” of schools, land, security, and resources that have shaped America’s historical looting. Let us build equity and make reparations through redesigning the food system and land arrangements whose roots are racist, colonial, and capitalist.
This work can take the form of securing land tenure for black farmers in rural spaces and in urban food apartheid; it can take the form of policies that create healthy, equitable food systems for both farmworkers and the land; it can happen with dismantling the mass incarceration system. Whatever form it takes, success depends on the generosity of those with access to capital and privilege to use their proximity to institutions of power for the rebirth of a new commons.
This calls for great organizational acuity and lots of work – work that is already being done by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and POC farmers, organizations, and institutions. Below we have highlighted some of the many outstanding organizations doing this work with links to support them directly, along with resources for education and sharing. This list is in no way comprehensive, and we encourage you to comment below with any other organizations that are doing this work.
* “The commons” is a multilayered theoretical concept. Within the boundaries of the commons are physical land and waters, resources, public goods, structures of governance, culture, and knowledge and theory. While the commons can simply be imagined as shared resources, they have also come to represent a framework for thinking about ideologies, community, sustainability, and governance.
P.S. We’re building out a new website with updated blog and resource sections – how can we continue this conversation and make information sharing more useful to you? What do you want to see?
Black Family Land Trust The Black Family Land Trust, Inc. (BFLT) incorporated in 2004 and based in North Carolina, is one of the nation’s only conservation land trust dedicated to the preservation and protection of African-American and other historically underserved landowners assets.
Black Farmer Fund The Black Farmer Fund supports black farmers by increasing access to capital, supporting business ownership, supporting economic democracy, and creating social and cultural changes to support black sovereignty within the food and farm economy.
Earthseed Land Cooperative Formally established in 2012 by a group of black and brown farmers and social justice organizers. Over the past decade, they have sought to establish a stable land base for their families and an equally grounded, self-sustaining, and welcoming hub for community building, particularly among farmers of color and food justice advocates, in Durham, North Carolina.
Farms to Grow Farms to Grow, Inc is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to working with Black farmers and underserved sustainable farmers around the country. Farms To Grow, Inc. is committed to sustainable farming and innovative agriculture practices which preserve the cultural and biological diversity, the agroecological balance of the local environment.
Land Loss Prevention Projec LLPP is a non-profit public interest group that has been working for almost 40 years to curtail the epidemic loss of black-owned land in North Carolina. They provide planning and legal support, succession planning, and fight legal takings of black-owned land. LLPP helps farmers function under the weight of debt and market fluctuations, while supporting sustainable ecological and economic practices.
New Communities Land Trus New Communities Land Trust is a 501(c)(4) that began as a 5700-acre farm collective, and is widely recognized as the original model for community land trusts in the United States, and has been protecting communities of color in Georgia at a grassroots level for over 40 years, working for the better of human communities, wildlife habitat, and racial justice.
Planting Justice Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. Since 2009 Planting Justice has built over 450 edible permaculture gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, worked with five high-schools to develop food justice curricula and created 40 green jobs in the food justice movement for folks transitioning from prison.
Soul Fire Farm Soul Fire Farm is a BIPOC*-centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination. Soul Fire’s Founder, Leah Penniman, is also the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.
Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON) is a nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA. We are a network of Black farmers in the Southeastern United States who are committed to culturally relevant, ancestrally guided, and ecologically sustainable agricultural-based living. SAAFON’s higher calling is to seek the liberation and empowerment of Black people through agricultural, food, and land-based strategies. We promote agricultural production and land management practices that are rooted in indigenous ways of knowing that span geographies, space and time. We recognize, honor and uplift the ways of our ancestors and ask for their guidance as we show how Black agrarianism offers solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our communities. The SAAFON network allows our members to connect with like-minded farmers, to build collective power in order to achieve our visions of land-based success, and to model alternative ways of living in the 21st century.
Farmstand (June–November) Thursdays, 3:30–5:30 pm: 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard Saturdays, 10am–2 pm: Clark Park Farmers Market, 43rd and Chester
“To develop an African focus for the farm’s core purpose, co-directors Chris Bolden-Newsome and Ty Holmberg have engaged in many conversations with the community gardeners, student interns, and local leaders. At the farm, we are committed to living the praxis of Sankofa, a constant “remembering” as we move forward with our lives as individuals, nourished by active engagement of our people’s shared narratives in America. The concept of Sankofa is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa. Sankofa is expressed in the Akan language as “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenkyi.” Literally translated, it means, “It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” The farm has been guided by the idea of Sankofa since its inception and we work daily to bring this consciousness in our Southwest Philadelphia community.“
From the editors at Civil Eats comes this list of organizations working to strengthen food justice, land access, and food access in the Black community.
SUPPORT THESE GROUPS!
“Food justice is racial justice. Food and agriculture, like everything in this country, are deeply intertwined with our nation’s entrenched history of slavery and structural racism. Our food system actively silences, marginalizes, and disproportionately impacts people of color, who are also being hardest hit by COVID-19.“
The Quivira Coalition, Holistic Management International, and American Grassfed Association are pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2019 REGENERATE HERD Fellowship, which provides scholarships for young farmers, ranchers, and conservationists, and students in related fields to attend the 2019 REGENERATE Conference from November 19-22 in Albuquerque, New Mexico!
The HERD Fellowship seeks to connect scholarship recipients with peers and mentors at the event, as well as support their pursuit of lives in agriculture beyond the event. Attending the REGENERATE Conference provides fellows with the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field, build relationships with peers and mentors, find support for their work, and bring a fresh perspective on the future of agriculture.
We will award 12 full scholarships (covers conference registration fee, and travel and lodging expenses) and 25 tuition-only scholarships (covers conference registration fee) to ranchers, farmers, conservationists, and others in related fields who are beginning their careers. These scholarships will be prioritized to support individuals who identify as belonging to a community historically underrepresented, economically low-resource, and/or marginalized in agriculture. We are specifically encouraging the application of Tribal, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, and Asian/Pacific Islander beginning ranchers, farmers, and conservationists. However, qualified applicants from any background with a strong application will also be considered.
Interested individuals can apply by submitting an online application or completing an interview by phone or in-person. Please call the Quivira Coalition at 505-820-2544 to schedule an interview with either Arielle or Sarah.Applications must be submitted by 11 pm MT on Friday, September 20. Applicants will be notified no later than October 1 about the status of their applications.
You may also recommend someone for a scholarship by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org their name, contact information, and 1-2 sentences why they would be a good candidate for the HERD Fellowship.
Check out this awesome article written by very good friend of the Greenhorns, Jean Willoughby for Yes! Magazine. Jean writes about the recent changes within the farming movement. Her article focuses on the increase in the number of voluntary transfers of land and resources to people of color as a means of reparations for past injustices.
“Last month, Dallas Robinson received an email from someone she didn’t know, asking if she would be open to receiving a large sum of money—with no strings attached. For once, it wasn’t spam. She hit reply.
Robinson is a beginning farmer with experience in organic agriculture, and has had plans to establish the Harriet Tubman Freedom Farm on 10 acres of family land near her home in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Located in an area where the poverty rate hovers at nearly 20 percent, according to census data, and where both food insecurity and obesity rates are even higher, the farm will focus on serving the needs of the surrounding community by producing vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms.
The gift from the stranger arrived thanks to a new online map, the Black-Indigenous Farmers Reparations Map, a project to promote “people-to-people” reparations.”
The email that Robinson received was from Douglass DeCandia (regular contributor to the Greenhorns New Farmers Almanac!) who had heard Robinson speak at the young farmers conference this year which featured the controversial speech from keynote Mark Bittman. Bittman’s response to those speaking truth to power at the conference was a stark awakening for many and has encouraged many of those who hold power to question how they are holding themselves accountable.