Farms across the United States sell their produce to grocery stores, or they set up at farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. The beauty of buying local ingredients is that you develop a connection with the people who grow your food. Not only do you support them directly, cutting out the middle man that is the grocery store, but you get the freshest quality produce straight from the source.
Some people live in areas where COVID-19 cases are extremely high, and they don’t want to venture to grocery stores or farmers’ markets. This is where CSAs come into play. They often provide delivery or no-contact pickup services for customers who want weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly bundles from the farms.
Now more than ever, black-owned CSAs and farms need your support. According to 2019 statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, less than 2% of farmers in the U.S. are black. Out of the 3.4 million farms in the U.S., only 45,508 farms are black-owned. Compare that number to the 949,889 black farmers in 1920. This decrease in black-owned farms comes from a long history of white landowners taking black-owned land. According to Dr. Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow, a nonprofit that helps black farmers become more sustainable, the government has a history of rejecting applications from black farmers for USDA support programs.
How Black-Owned CSAs Support The Community:
The community involvement of CSAs is paramount. Many black-owned CSAs introduce children to gardening, they offer employment for formerly incarcerated people, and teach people skills that they can transform into livelihood. Another aspect of these CSAs is their commitment to bringing fresh foods to areas with limited access to fresh produce. These areas are known as food deserts, and they exist disproportionately in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
Everyone deserves access to fresh produce. Instead, the presence of convenience stores, limited grocery stores, and fast food chains in these neighborhoods has diminished the health and wellness of community residents. The choice to eat processed or fast food is not a choice; rather, it is the only option. Fortunately, black-owned farmers and CSA programs are trying to change this, offering wonderful locally grown produce to their communities. They need your support to continue these services. Support the following farms and CSAs if you have the means and want fresh, healthy food.
Logan’s Gardens, Los Angeles, California:
The father-son duo of Jimmy and Logan Williams run Logan’s Gardens, which is located in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The farm produces over 1,000 varieties of rare and heirloom plants, including blueberries, tomatoes, and peppers. You can find their produce at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market or the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, where all sorts of people eagerly wait to buy their produce.
Swanson Family Farm, Hampton, Georgia:
Located in Hampton, Georgia, Wayne Swanson, commonly referred to as Farmer Wayne, raises cows, sheep, goats, and pigs on the family farm. With the help of his wife and son, Swanson Family Farm run’s a buyer’s club that connects directly with consumers. He continues to run a sustainable farm during COVID-19, attributing the success of his farm to his optimal conditions for his livestock. He treats his animals with respect, allowing them to graze freely, access ponds, and drink clean water. They plan to open an additional farm in New Jersey by the end of Summer 2020.
Soul Fire Farm, Petersburg, New York:
On the 80 acres of Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg, New York, you can find a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, pasture-raised meat, forest products, and chickens. Since 2010, the farm has provided vegetable and egg delivery programs for low-income community members. The farm also helps train farmers of color, and it prides itself in being an educational farm that stands up for the rights of farmworkers and everyone impacted by the food system.
Gangstas To Growers, Atlanta, Georgia:
Abiodun Henderson started this agribusiness training program for at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth four years ago. Gangstas to Growers offers a three-month program, in which participants work on a cooperative farm, attend seminars, and engage in yoga classes. Participants earn wages and gain skills that propel them into production and business management. So, they learn how to grow food and transform that food into retail products. The goal is to assist 500 young people by 2025.
Fresh Future Farms, North Charleston, South Carolina:
Founded by Germaine Jenkins and Todd Chas in 2014, Fresh Future Farms aims to bring healthy food to economically challenged communities. There are communities surrounding the farm that limited grocery stores. The stores in these areas contain hardly any produce items. This farm has an on-site grocery store, where they sell produce straight from the farm. We are talking about harvest-to-order food people! The store also assists people with challenging economic circumstances.
Soilful City, Washington, D.C.:
Soilful City has a mission to cultivate fresh produce for under-resourced individuals in the D.C. metro area. Xavier Brown heads the urban farm, which partners with grassroots organizations to create sustainable agriculture programs. All of Brown’s efforts help build stronger communities that have a greater focus on health and locally sourced food.