After a Century in Decline, Black Farmers Are Back and on the Rise
Blain Snipstal and Aleya Fraser
Farm:Black Dirt Farm Collective
Location: Preston, Maryland
Number of Years Farming: 7
Revered Elder: Harriet Tubman
About 80 miles southeast of Baltimore, Black Dirt leases 2 acres that long have been home to the Black freedom struggle. Harriet Tubman once rescued her parents and nine other people from enslavement in this place, which was one of the first stops on the Underground Railroad.
Eugene Cooke and JoVanna Johnson-Cooke
Farm: Grow Where You Are Collective
Location: Atlanta and Stone Mountain, Georgia
Number of Years Farming: 14
Revered Elder: Wangari Maathai
Collaboration is also key for the nine members of the Grow Where You Are collective, who operate a 3-acre farm and food forest in Atlanta, as well as a 5-acre farm in the nearby rural community of Stone Mountain.
Farm: Hattie Carthan Herban Farm
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Number of Years Farming: 16
Revered Elder: Hattie Carthan
Yonette Fleming’s passion for agriculture comes through in the poetic urgency of her words. So it’s surprising to learn she once tried to escape it. She was raised in Guyana, where her family cooperated with indigenous communities to grow coconuts, sugar, rice, and other crops. She took a detour into corporate America before finding her way back to the land.
Farm: Tuskegee United Leadership and Innovation Program (TULIP)
Location: Tuskegee, Alabama
Number of Years Farming: 2
Revered Elder: Booker T. Washington
The educator and activist Booker T. Washington once sent a letter to every resident of Tuskegee’s Greenwood neighborhood, encouraging them to grow home gardens in order to build self-sufficiency. Through her work with TULIP, Lindsey Lunsford is continuing his legacy.
Farm: Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bantram’s Garden (a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative)
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Number of Years Farming: 12
Revered Elders: Rufus and Demalda Newsome (his parents)
Before the “food justice” movement existed in the United States, Black farmers in the Mississippi Delta were cooperating to feed the community. Raised by farmers in that movement, Chris Bolden-Newsome assumed that growing food was something everybody did and was shocked to find otherwise when he moved north. He now manages a 50-bed community garden in his current home of Philadelphia, where he reconnects Black people to their agricultural heritage.