Making History with Black Farmers

At N4J, we know that a monumental transformation is taking place in our nation that will change our agricultural landscape on a massive scale – and that this shift can also serve as a catalyst for reparation to the Black community. Our work isn’t just about supporting Black farmers, it’s about positioning them as leaders where they have been historically left behind. Our work is an effort to ensure that the global shift towards regeneration and climate action is a shift that addresses the intertwined issues that have led us into this mess.

As our world wrestles with overlapping crises and their underlying systems our Farmer Inclusion team can’t help but see ourselves as a part of a larger historical moment. And just a year into this work, we are seeing powerful impacts play out in real-time:

  • Already, we’ve built a network of 125 BIPOC farmers in North Carolina, a vast majority of whom identify as Black
  • In this network, 71 farmers are committed to regenerative practices on 5,000 acres – that’s over 4,000 football fields
  • To compensate farmers for their work and the risk of trying new practices to their farms, we have committed over one million dollars in direct payments, averaging around $15,000 per farmer
  • We are launching an internship program with NC State, allowing Black farmers in our network to connect with future Black farmers and combat the shrinking number of BIPOC farms
  • We are supporting leadership and public speaking professional development for BIPOC farmers to become thought leaders and activists in their industry
 
It’s time to heal these wounds, support Black communities to reconnect with the land and reverse the trend of Black land loss. It’s time for Black farmers to be prioritized and given the resources to lead our nation toward systems of ecological, economic, and social justice. And as we visit farmers on their land and at conferences for Black farmers, we see this historical process in action.

Stories From The Field

NC Cooperative Experiments with New Crops

In Martin County, near the coast of North Carolina, we met with members of the Albemarle Sound Cooperative, a group of farmers who work together to steward land. The cooperative is a space designated for knowledge sharing and advocacy for intergenerational cooperation and regenerative movements. We heard from Frank Wilkins, a farmer who has been stewarding his land since the 1970s with his wife but has grown too old to be on the field himself. With deep pride, Frank told us of his brother Shachia, who has followed in his footsteps and is now experimenting with hemp crops.

Cultivating Connections During Operation Spring Plant

Similarly, during this year’s Operation Spring Plant, we visited Stanley Hughes Farm in Hurdle Mills, NC, and had the opportunity to spread our mission statement, understand the current practice trends farmers are implementing, and connect with organizations who are also fighting to regenerate and conserve Black-owned land.

Mooretown Community Garden Project Lunch and Learn

N4J’s Farmer Engagement Coordinator, Jasmine Gibson also joined a “Lunch and Learn” at the Mooretown Community Gardens. We heard from youth interns who shared lessons from a summer in the community garden. The event (and photo pictured here) included members of The Stanford-Duplin Extension & Community Association (ECA), youth from The Diversity Nurtures Achievements Community Youth Center (DNA), and other organizations and county representatives.

These are the people and places that contribute to the regenerative agriculture movement. Our work across North Carolina has proven to us that our model is effective and we see the immense potential for our work to truly position BIPOC farmers as leaders in the US regenerative agriculture movement. Black communities are already doing the work – we are just here to lend a helping hand.

Authors

  • Jasmine Gibson

    In her role as Farmer Engagement Coordinator, Jasmine Gibson uses her academia background in Agricultural Engineering and Horticultural Science to close knowledge-sharing and resource gaps for BIPOC farmers in North Carolina.

  • Michael Weiss

    Michael is a Program Analyst at N4J, supporting a range of N4J programs including fundraising and development for the Farmer Inclusion program. He has a background in environmental justice policy and advocacy, community engagement, and sustainable development.

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