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During Black History Month, BriarPatch Food Co-op shoppers have an opportunity to support the work of Farms to Grow, Inc. a nonprofit organization based in Oakland that advocates and promotes the sustainability of Black and underserved farmers in the U.S.
“We fill an important gap for Black farmers,” said Dr. Gail Myers, a cultural anthropologist who helped to co-found Farms to Grow, Inc. two decades ago.
All month long, Co-op shoppers can donate to Farms to Grow, Inc. when they round up their purchase price at the register through the Co-op CAUSE program. The program allows shoppers to donate easily at checkout to a community endeavor aligned with the Co-op’s Ends Policies.
After the killing of George Floyd last summer, BriarPatch publicly denounced the violence and acknowledged the need to learn and do more to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2021, shining a light on causes like Farms to Grow, Inc. is part of the Co-op’s long-term commitment to support those leading equity work. Other 2021 CAUSE recipients include: Planting Justice, The Trevor Project, Farmworker Justice, FREED Center for Independent Living and Color Me Human.
Also in February, BriarPatch is selling Black Hives Matter T-shirts on the Co-op website in support of local beekeeper Cameron Redford and his business, Black Sierra Honey Company. In the store, a fundraiser by Equal Exchange coffee will donate $1 for every pound sold to The Deep Grocery Cooperative in East Oakland, to work against food apartheid.
Realizing their power on the land
Farms run by African Americans make up less than 2% of all of the nation’s farms today, down from 14% in 1920, because of decades of racial violence and unfair lending and land ownership policies, according to a Jan. 31 article that appeared in the New York Times.
“Black farmers have historically not had equity. It’s still an uphill battle in a system that doesn’t see it as we’ve seen it. Black farmers have not received an equitable share of farm resources,” said Dr. Gail Myers.
Myers and Farms to Grow, Inc. work to document and disseminate farm history to advance the public’s understanding of the important roles of Black farmers. The nonprofit facilitates relationships by outreaching to young people in schools, connecting Black farmers to restaurants and consumers and leading talks at institutions like Stanford University.
The group works to improve access to food grown by Black farmers through an urban farmers market and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food box subscription.
Farms to Grow, Inc. is committed to sustainable farming and innovative agriculture practices that preserve the cultural and biological diversity of the land. They work to increase the capacity of underserved farmers (African American, Native American, Hispanic, women, the physically challenged, etc.) all over the country to keep their farm operations viable, now and for future generations. Myers has witnessed a trend emerging in the last five years among younger, college educated farmers who bring new ideas and energy to the movement.
“It’s become something that they see value in – going back to the land. I think they’re realizing their power on the land. Their own power,” Myers said.
The Biden Administration has pledged to make agriculture a cornerstone of its climate agenda while taking steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to loans and assistance programs to buy and maintain land. Meyers is hopeful that a new consciousness is bringing environmental, social, racial and food justice groups to the same table.
“Racial justice – it needs to be the lens we look through everything. That’s the prism. People are organizing with the intent of really changing the status quo and it’s having an impact. It’s a very positive impact,” said Myers.
In the summer of 2012, Dr. Myers spent four weeks driving 10,000 miles across 10 southern states interviewing over 30 African American sharecroppers, tenant farmers and third and fifth generation farmers. The documentary, “Rhythms of the Land” is scheduled for release this fall. On Saturday, Feb. 27 from 3 to 4: 30 p.m. Farms to Grow will host a virtual screening of the film’s trailer followed by a Q & A with Dr. Myers. Register here: http://ow.ly/8Wbz50DoqDd
Learn more at https://www.briarpatch.coop/ or https://www.farmstogrow.com/.
Source: Briar Patch Co-op
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