Theory of Change: Creating Access

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Over the past several weeks, we at Nature For Justice have begun to build our nascent efforts to support existing African American farmer networks in North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida as they build capacity to manage impacts from climate change, as well as other challenges to more resilient farms and communities — such as water insecurity and soil degradation. We hear much about the challenges facing African American farmers over several decades and some of these challenges can be tied back to issues of access.

We expect that our work will cover at least four critical access points that are listed below and I will discuss in more detail in upcoming blogs:

Access to Technology and Knowledge
Nature For Justice is working to pair farmers and communities with scientists in our target states to share information about the best techniques and strategies to build resilient farms, particularly utilizing the science of Nature Based Solutions. This two-way learning pathway builds on traditional knowledge and scientific research and should increase resilience and productivity of these farmlands and their communities.
Access to Markets
How can we ensure access to existing markets and stimulate new ones that have historically shown discrimination against African American farmers? What about access to the new markets for buying and selling ecosystem services and other elements of the natural capital stack? Nature For Justice is beginning to hear from leaders in the farming community about opportunities they have seen to generate income from expanded markets and new uses of their lands along with ways to build trust between farmers and markets.
Access to Capital
Our early outreach is telling us that there is not a lack of capital in the agricultural system to support existing and emerging farmers; the issue is making sure that capital is reaching African American farmers in a way that does not put them at a disadvantage (e.g., arbitrarily inflated loan rates). We are beginning to identify examples of programs and efforts that are addressing this gap. Nature For Justice’s work will seek to build on existing models to expand access to available fair capital.
Access to Secure Land
The legacy of racism has long imperiled African American ownership of farmlands, particularly in the South. Land and farmland access and ownership are intrinsic for ensuring successful and durable growth in the face of climate change where adaptive management is needed. Nature For Justice is working with leaders in the space to better understand this impact and to identify tools to strength ownership rights, including land trust models.
We are just beginning these efforts, and we are excited already about the relationships we are building and the energy we see among farmers, advocates, and decision markers alike to build on existing success stories to broaden our impact. We look forward to offering periodic updates that will focus on our work to address these access points and support African American farmers as they build resilient lands and communities.

Author

  • Kevin Bryan has 20 years of experience building coalitions, developing organizational strategy, and fostering collaboration between organizations to support the growth of promising organizations and opportunities for people of color. He currently advises national organizations and coalitions as they shift their program frameworks to incorporate equity and justice.

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