In spring 2021, Nature For Justice (N4J) launched its Inclusive Climate Resource Network (ICRNet) program for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers in the southeast U.S. This network aims to help these farmers access the essential technical and financial resources that they traditionally have been denied. These resources will enable BIPOC farmers to become more resilient to the increasing risks of climate change.
The increasing risks of climate change, particularly acute with regards to agriculture, are creating increased threats from droughts and floods. The ICRNet will focus, initially, on mitigating these threats for BIPOC farmers through climate-smart agriculture practices. These practices will contribute to building climate resilience in the farming methods of the affected farmers.
Phase One: Situational Analysis and Pilot Impact Area Selection
The initial phase of the ICRNet program was launched in spring 2021. The goal of this phase was to select the initial area of focus, determine the specific threats, identify mitigation options, and establish the necessary solutions and how best to implement them. One key success of this phase of the program was the commitment of funds from the Walmart Foundation and the North Carolina-based William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.
Based upon our Phase One research, N4J selected central North Carolina for its initial ICRNet pilot. Central North Carolina is an agricultural hub in the region with numerous groups of BIPOC farmers who, due to historical bias, have not had access to support in the face of climate change.
In addition to choosing central North Carolina, the research phase of the ICRNet program identified four key factors that served as the basis for our approach for Phase Two and beyond.
To successfully bridge the resource gap for BIPOC farmers, our program must:
These four conclusions served as the foundation to the approach to be implemented in Phase Two of the program.
Phase Two: Collaborative Assessment and Planning with Local Partners
Phase Two of the ICRNet Program began in May of 2022. This current phase is focused on building a network of key stakeholders who will be able to connect local BIPOC farmers with access to climate resources. N4J has met with numerous local organizations who are working in this field and have already established trust with local farmers, farmer organizations, and other important stakeholders.
The graphic below illustrates the functions of a Inclusive Climate Resource Network.
Moving forward, the ICRNet will connect BIPOC farmers with the technical and financial resources necessary to increase climate resilience. Once the initial pilot is operating in central North Carolina, the program will replicate the model in eastern NC and other locations throughout the southeastern U.S. For more information regarding the ICRNet regional resource hubs, visit the program page.