Black Land Matters

Modern Farmer:


“…In 1920, before the Great Migration drew some six million African Americans to cities such as Chicago and New York, 14 percent of the farm owners in this country were black, at a time when only 10 percent of the population was. Collectively, those one million individuals owned 15 million acres of land. Over the ensuing decades, however, these farmers left agriculture at a rate three times faster than their Caucasian counterparts, and by 1992, the percentage of U.S. farms owned by African Americans had dwindled to less than one percent…”

“Soul Fire Farm has operated on a sliding-scale CSA model that encourages affluent customers to subsidize boxes of organically grown produce and pastured chickens for less fortunate capital-region residents. The initial goal, as Penniman defines it: “We wanted, straight up, to deliver fresh, high-quality food to our people at prices they could afford.”

“…Turner considers the proliferation of black-run urban farms a positive trend, he notes that these growers rarely hold the deed to the land they work. “I support the efforts to turn vacant lots into community gardens,” he explains, “but that’s not going to create an inheritance for generations to come. The way to achieve parity in this country is by owning a piece of the rock.”

“…Fannie Lou Hamer. A sharecropper evicted for registering to vote in 1962, Hamer raised enough capital to gradually establish the 680-acre Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, Mississippi, a refuge of sorts for evicted tenant farmers. By owning the land, and being her own boss, Hamer became impervious to the scare tactics of white employers: “She and others like her were able to take a role in the front lines of voter registration drives, were the first to sign petitions, and didn’t hesitate to speak up at NAACP meetings.”

“Penniman launched “Uprooting Racism in the Food System,” a four-day workshop she describes as “training to de-program white people in positions of power or influence—someone who might hold public office or direct a nonprofit.”…The workshop gets them to stop thinking of racism simply as interpersonal meanness, like using the N-word, and to recognize the ways it’s been baked into our structures.”



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