Food autonomy is freedom. That is true for absolutely everyone, but systemic racism, environmental injustice, economic collapse and climate change are creating a perfect storm in which Black people are in danger of being pushed to the margins as natural resources are commodified and hoarded by the wealthy.
This is hardly new. In the 1920’s, there were nearly a million Black-owned farms in the United States. Thanks to the racist lending policies of the 1930’s, Black farmers were systemically unable to secure loans and access the same programs as their white contemporaries, and as of the early 2010’s, only 1.6% of U.S. farmers were Black, down from a peak of 14%.
By any other name, that is systematic theft.
It is crucial that vulnerable communities are empowered to destroy the leverage that is used to control them, and food is one of the most powerful means of control. This is not news to Black people. The original Black Panther Party fed more poor children than the state of California in the late 1960’s.
As American agribusiness teeters on the bring of economic and environmental implosion, Black commercial farming might still be down, but there are dozens of Black-led farming, food garden, and food independence programs all over the country that need support and comraderie in this transition from dependence on the capitalist food web to community independence and prosperity.
I used the words “signal boost” in the title because that’s something everyone can do. Obviously, if you can afford to donate, please do! If you can volunteer time or resources, please do! But your platform and encouragment have value too. Follow these brilliant people on social media and give them heart reactions. Tell them they’re doing amazing and important work! Share them, and send locals their way! Mention them when people ask for groups to donate to!
Every single bit of that counts, and can cumulatively add up to more than any single donation you might make (though I defintely encourage you to plunk down some treasure if you can).
The Metro Atlanta Urban Farm
“Metro Atlanta Urban Farm believes everyone deserves access to affordable high quality produce. Our certified naturally grown produce is grown and harvested with care by the hands of staff and volunteers who support an equitable food distribution system. We provide gardening and agricultural training to ensure families learn to feed themselves and to create future generations of urban agriculturalists.
At Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, we believe EVERYONE should have access to affordable fresh produce grown free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Our mission is to reduce barriers to healthy living in urban communities by encouraging, promoting and supporting health education and sustainable high-quality low-cost agricultural production through gardening and farm training. Most important our goal is to feed you well! We invite you to visit our community and experience urban farming at our 5 acre facility located in College Park!”
National Black Food & Justice Alliance
“National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA) is a coalition of Black-led organizations working towards cultivating and advancing Black leadership, building Black self-determination, Black institution building and organizing for food sovereignty, land and justice. The Alliance seeks to achieve this by engaging in broad based coalition organizing for black food and land, increasing visibility of Black led narratives and work, advancing Black led visions for just and sustainable communities, and building capacity for self-determination within our local, national, and international food systems and land rights work.
We focus our work on black food sovereignty, self-determining food economies, and land. We approach food sovereignty, land and self-determining food economies through the lens of healing, organizing & resistance against anti-Blackness.”
Soil Generation (Philadelphia, PA)
“Soil Generation is a Black & Brown-led coalition of gardeners, farmers, individuals, and community-based organizations working to ensure people of color regain community control of land and food, to secure access to the resources necessary to determine how the land is used, address community health concerns, grow food and improve the environment. Soil Generation reaches these goals through relationship building, honoring culture, community education, organizing, activism and advocacy: a People’s Agroecology.”
City Slicker Farms (Oakland, CA)
“City Slicker Farms began with a mission to empower West Oakland community members to meet the basic need for fresh, healthy food by creating sustainable, high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens. Since its founding in 2001, City Slicker Farms has been at the forefront of the 21st-century sustainable urban farming and food justice movement, gaining national recognition as a leader in supporting low-income communities of color to grow food in the city. In those sixteen years, we have built over 400 backyard and community gardens, produced 300,000 pounds of nutrient rich food, and trained thousands of community members in organic gardening methods and environmental stewardship.”
Soilful City (Washington D.C.)
“Soilful seeks to bring justice to communities and heal the sacred relationship between communities of African decent and Mother earth. Soilful views farming not only as a way to cultivate food and sovereignty for communities, but as a way to heal and rebuild our souls. We utilize the agricultural and the political principals of Agroecology to work in solidarity with under resourced communities to develop a collective consciousness about restoring bodies, families, communities, and the land in which they live and to create a harmony amongst individuals, communities, and the natural world.
Soilful City is a space dedicated to connecting humans and nature through information, ideas, and people in urban environments. Creating Leadership through the wisdom of nature. Soilful City partners with other grassroots organizations to create community led urban sustainable projects by using urban agriculture and the wisdom of nature to reconnect people back to the earth. Soilful City seeks to find the intersecting points between urban agriculture and other social justice issues.”
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
“The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) was formed in February 2006 to address food insecurity in Detroit’s Black community and to organize members of that community to play a more active leadership role in the local food security movement. We observed that many of the key players in the local urban agriculture movement were young whites, who while well-intentioned, never-the-less, exerted a degree of control inordinate to their numbers in Detroit’s population. Many of those individuals moved to Detroit from other places specifically to engage in agricultural or other food security work. It was and is our view that the most effective movements grow organically from the people whom they are designed to serve. Representatives of Detroit’s majority African-American population must be in the leadership of efforts to foster food justice and food security in Detroit. While our specific focus is on Detroit’s African-American community, we realize that improved policy and an improved localized food system is a benefit to all Detroit residents.”
Soul Fire Farm (Petersburg, NY)
Soul Fire Farm is a BIPOC-centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.
Black Family Land Trust, Inc.
”The African American Land Ethic is where the Black Family Land Trust begins; honoring the legacy of those stewards of the land that came before us and having faith in those stewards of the land that will come after us. We believe that the land is an asset. Land ownership represents wealth, power, community, sustainability and economic opportunities for generations yet born. The African American’s history and relationship with the land must be reexamined and self-defined in the context of the African American experience in America. We must utilize every tool available to reduce the rate of African America and other historically underserved populations land loss. Not one more acre, or blade of grass, or grain of sand can be lost…not one more!”
Fresh Future Farm (North Charleston, SC)
“Germaine Jenkins (she/her/hers/they/theirs) founded Fresh Future Farm to address the health, wealth, and quality of life disparities in underserved North Charleston communities. Germaine, like many of the neighborhood’s residents, struggled to access affordable, healthy and culturally relevant foods. She and all of the farm staff believe that everyone deserves to eat quality food.
Born in Hartsville, SC and raised in Cleveland, OH, she returned to the Palmetto State and earned degrees in Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University. After finishing college, they worked and volunteered in the nonprofit sector for the next 11 years. Ms. Jenkins completed Commercial Urban Agriculture certification from Growing Power Inc and won seed capital to start Fresh Future Farm.”
Mudbone Grown (Portland, OR)
“Mudbone Grown is a black-owned farm enterprise that promotes inter-generational community-based farming that creates measurable and sustainable environmental, social, cultural, and economic impacts in communities. MudBone Grown’s work helps to develop and implement workplace-based educational experiences to help teens, young adults, and low-income communities develop marketable careers, education skills that help build and sustain community capacity and place them in local jobs. By doing this we can succeed in our five-year goal to enhance food security, reduce energy use, improve community health and well-being, and stabilize our communities.”