Farmer Inclusion Program Overview

“Working with African American farmers in the Southeast U.S. compels us to adjust our conceptual and programmatic focus, from ‘equity’ – ensuring parity in access to information – to ‘social justice’ – considering how information has been or can be used to marginalize or to empower disadvantaged groups.” (Social Justice in Climate Services, Furman, et. al, 2014)

In 1920,
there were nearly 950,000
African American farmers in the U.S.

There are increasing risks to BIPOC farmers
from climate change, particularly risk of more regular
and intense droughts and floods, which are expected to
increase in intensity by 50% by 2050.

Today there are only
45,500 Black Farmers, a little
more than 1%
of the total number.

Research confirms BIPOC farmers need more inclusive
access to Climate-Smart Agriculture information
and financial resources.

In 1910,
Black farmers owned
16-19 million acres.

Access to inclusive climate resources can best be
accomplished through networks of existing trusted partner organizations.

Today, some 68,000 Black farmers own 7.8 million acres, less than 1% of the country's total farm acreage.

Regional hubs of Inclusive Climate Resource Networks (ICRNet)
provide access to local capacities and targeted resources
for BIPOC farmers within a 3-5 county area.

Yet those 7.8 million acres owned by Black farmers
are worth $14.4 billion.

Peer-to-peer networks have demonstrated great success
reaching BIPOC farmers with new information and resources.

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As a global organization, Nature for Justice (N4J) harnesses nature-based solutions to advance social justice for frontline populations confronting the climate crisis. The Farmer Inclusion Program is N4J’s core U.S. initiative and is currently launching in North Carolina. We focus on Black and Indigenous smallholder farmers and farm owners, as well as other farmers and farm owners of color to expand their access to existing resources and build their climate resilience. 

Interested in being a partner in this program? Click here to contact us.

Our Approach

The North Carolina agricultural justice landscape is a diverse and well-established field. N4J’s goal is to be additive to this landscape; wherever possible, we will support and convene existing networks or groups of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) farmers through local partners. We also compensate local BIPOC farmers and BIPOC-led farmer organizations for sharing their time, networks, and expertise with us and others.

Peer-to-Peer Learning through Networks

We will support networks of BIPOC farmers that want to implement specific climate or environmental interventions such as water access or efficiency, new cover crops, or regenerative agriculture. These networks will receive financial support for implementing new approaches on their own farms, compensation for their input and insights as they network and share lessons learned, and subject-matter expert technical support.

We will launch the first cohort in spring 2023 for growers with plans for regenerative or organic practices but needing additional financial or technical support to begin implementation. 

Farmer Inclusion

Black and Indigenous communities have a long history of implementing regenerative agricultural practices but face some of the highest barriers to keeping access to their land much less these practices. Historically, Black farmers held almost 25 percent of farms in North Carolina; now it’s three percent, or less than 1,500 farms. At the same time, with less than two percent of US land farmed as organic and even less with regenerative or restorative practices, industrial agriculture contributes to an overwhelming amount of climate emissions; habitat loss; soil erosion; and water, land, and air pollution—impacting frontline farming communities.

The Farmer Inclusion Program seeks to increase Black and Indigenous farmers’ access to resources and strengthen climate resilience through social justice approaches and a focus on regenerative agriculture. 

Subject-Matter Experts and Local Partners
N4J will build a consortium that centers Black and Indigenous farmers and partner organizations, compensating them for their networks and knowledge. The responsibilities of a subject-matter expert or local partner may include:
  • Increase BIPOC farmer engagement and recruit new producers to increase inclusivity in historically exclusive environments
  • Structure, facilitate, or support the implementing cohorts
  • Customize service offerings for the wider Program and specific regional priorities
  • Share technical and financial resources or programs with BIPOC smallholder farmers that complement their existing regenerative practices
  • Support N4J in bringing awareness to discriminatory practices that historically and currently exclude BIPOC farmers from resources and suggest alternative practices
  • Provide feedback on how N4J can leverage its relationships and funding to improve access to climate resources
  Let’s Talk About It! Please contact us via this form with questions and comments if you are interested in joining a cohort or engaging as a subject-matter expert. 

The Team

Zoraya Hightower
Zoraya Hightower, Director
Jasmine Gibson
Jasmine Gibson, Coordinator
Clarenda Stanley
Clarenda Stanley, Advisor

Nature for Justice is also seeking a Director of Farmer Inclusion to replace our interim Director. Please circulate this announcement within your networks and share any feedback you have on how N4J and this specific role can best engage with you and our wider community!

This work is made possible through partnerships with The Kenan Charitable Trust, The Walmart Foundation, and other donors.


The following Resources section includes a collection of U.S. government publications, news articles, scholarly publications and listing of Black farmers and their market.  We will periodically update this collection. You can also read more about our approach to this important issue on this blog post.