These farmers are cultivating diversity in the agriculture world.

By Caroline Biggs
June 16, 2020
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According to a 2017 census conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), of the 3.4 million farmers across the country, only 45,508 are Black. In other words, just 1.3 percent of all farmers in America are Black; the same data shows that over 95 percent are caucasian. While these numbers are undoubtedly disparate, more recent reports suggest that a new generation of Black agricultural producers are working to close this racial gap—both within the farming world and beyond.

Take Soul Fire Farm, located in Petersburg, New York, for example. "We're an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system," co-director and farm manager Leah Penniman, seen above, tells MarthaStewart.com. "Our food sovereignty programs reach over 10,000 people each year, including farmer training for Black and Brown growers, reparations and land return initiatives for northeast farmers, food justice workshops for urban youth, home gardens for city-dwellers living under food apartheid, doorstep harvest delivery for food insecure households, and systems and policy education for public decision-makers." Curious what Black-owned farms, food gardens, and nurseries you can support in your area? Here are 10 across America that are cultivating diversity in agriculture.

Soul Fire Farm, Petersburg, New York

Located on 80 acres in Petersburg, New York, Soul Fire Farm has been using ancestral and regenerative farming methods to grow and produce vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, pastured meat, and forest products for people geographically and economically isolated from healthy food options since 2010. Today the farm—which is co-owned by Penniman and her husband—continues to grow food sustainably while offering everything from vegetable and egg delivery programs for low-income community members to training for farmers of color. "We do more than just produce," Penniman tells us. "We are an educational farm that works for the rights of farmers, farmworkers, consumers, and everyone impacted by oppression in the food system."

Logan's Gardens, Los Angeles, California

Based in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Logan's Garden, which is run by father-son duo Jimmy and Logan Williams, produces over 1,000 varieties of rare and heirloom edible plants, including blueberries, peppers, and tomatoes. Today, the Williams' sell their highly sought-after seeds and plants at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and Hollywood Farmer's Market, where chefs, celebrities, and locals alike flock to get their hands on the produce every week.

Fresh Future Farms, North Charleston, South Carolina

Based in North Charleston, South Carolina, Fresh Future Farms was founded by Germaine Jenkins and Todd Chas in 2014 with a mission to bring healthy food to their economically-deprived community. "There are many communities that lack stores and those that have stores have little or no fresh vegetables," community engagement manager Kenya Cummings tells MarthaStewart.com. Today, the urban farm grows a variety of fruits and vegetable and hosts an on-site grocery store, stocked with nutritious harvest-to-order foods that people can order directly from the farm. "The grocery store has a sliding scale for purchases that assist people based on their economic circumstances rooted in human dignity," she says.

The Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, Atlanta, Georgia

Since opening the Metro Atlanta Urban Farm (MAUF) in 2008, founder Bobby Wilson has been committed to growing and giving. "As soon as COVID-19 was announced, almost in tandem with the outbreak in Atlanta, MAUF became a designated Emergency Food Relief Station, providing everything from baby food and formula to frozen meats and vegetables," he tells us. Production on the farm today includes naturally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs harvested by organically fed chickens and roosters. "MAUF was started with a vision to help alleviate the disparities in nutrition, health, and wellness in historically marginalized communities and among people of color," he explains.

Rise & Root Farm, Chester, New York

As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens and New York City Community Garden Coalition, Karen Washington worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. In 2014, she opened Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York, where she continues to work with community gardens and urban farms in New York City and beyond to cultivate a stronger, healthier local food economy. Today, she is one of four women who co-own the farm.

Soilful City, Washington, D.C.

Xavier Brown started urban farm and garden Soilful City with a mission to cultivate fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables for under-resourced locals in the metro D.C. area. Along with growing produce, the farm partners with other grassroots organizations to create sustainable urban agricultural projects throughout the community to help build stronger, healthier neighborhoods.

Clean Greens, Seattle, Washington

Founded in 2007 by Reverend Robert Jeffrey, Clean Greens supplies fresh, sustainably grown produce at affordable prices to low-income families in the Seattle community. In addition to farm stands in the Central District and Columbia City neighborhoods, Clean Green's team—which includes Lottie Cross, the farm's volunteer coordinator, above—offer produce through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, where residents can purchase healthy fruits and veggies directly from the farm and have them delivered straight to their front door.

Three Part Harmony Farm, Washington, D.C.

Both an organic farmer and a social justice activist, Gail Taylor founded Three Part Home Farm in 2014 as a locally based economic model of sustainable agriculture and food distribution. Located on a two-acre parcel in northeast Washington, D.C., the farm currently works with urban farmers to cultivate a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers which are harvested and sold through their local CSA program.

Mother's Finest Urban Farms, Winston Salem, North Carolina

Samantha Foxx began Mother's Finest Urban Farms on two-and-a-half acres of growing space in her native North Carolina, and she went on to lease five additional acres as her venture grew. Today, the farm truly is the fruit of this mother's labor; her children play an active role in many of the farm's many operations, which include beekeeping, growing produce, and raising poultry.

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