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During this time of great uncertainty, many people are looking for ways to help our African-American communities. We’ve seen the deep roots of racism and divide in our country, but we are recognizing our shared humanity and interconnection.
Leah Penniman, the founding co-director of Soul Fire Farm, has written about the struggles of black farmers in America.
Here is some of her research:
“Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land.”
Urban farming is one way to help change these inequalities in the agricultural landscape. Self-taught urban farmer William Padilla-Brown started the mushroom cultivation company, MycoSymbiotics.
His love of fungi and mycology expanded into an annual festival in Pennsylvania, an educational YouTube channel, and his book, The Cordyceps Cultivation Handbook–helping people raise the rare Cordyceps militaris mushroom.
You can donate directly to his work at this link.
If you want to support a truly diverse future for mycology and agriculture in the United States, you could start by buying a copy of Leah Penniman’s book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.
Documentarian Anthony Rodriguez is raising funds for a documentary series called Growing Back to Nature. The first episode features William Padilla-Brown and the urban farming movement, shinning a light on mycology and the beauty of fungi. You can donate at this GoFundMe link.
Along with learning (and sharing) the story of African-American farmers, here are some other ways you can help right now.
If you click on any of these links in bold, you can donate to our country’s African-American farmers during these difficult times.
Michigan Urban Farming Initiative: “We hope to empower urban communities by using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity.”
The Ultimate List of Black Owned Farms & Food Gardens: The team at Shoppe Black has assembled a huge, state-by-state list of different farms you can support with your business right now.
The National Black Farmers Association: “a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide.”
Farmers of Color Network: “The project provides farmer-led technical assistance and funding for farmers of color, and hosts farm tours, networking events, and gatherings to highlight ancestral traditions and knowledge, as well as explore market solutions.
Clean Green Farms: Instagram reader Camille Sheppard added this link: “I volunteered with this farm for a couple years. It’s a rural farm based out of an urban black church community in Seattle.”
Northeast Farmers of Color Network: “an informal alliance of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian farmers making our lives on land in New England and Upstate New York.”
Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: “a community-led organization that acquires land or easements for the purpose of conservation and permanent affordability/access for certain peoples.”
Montgomery Countryside Alliance Land Link: “Montgomery Countryside Alliance’s Land Link is another example of local non-profits working to support getting more African-American farmers on the ground.”
Southeastern African-American Farmers’ Organic Network: “a nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA. We are a network of Black farmers in the Southeastern United States who are committed to culturally relevant, ancestrally guided, and ecologically sustainable agricultural-based living.”