Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fewer than 2% of U.S. farmers are African Americans, but numbers are steadily growing

While the number of farmers continues to decline, a rising number of African Americans are farming, Leah Penniman, a New York farmer and educator, writes for YES! Magazine. "These farmers are not just growing food, either. The ones you’ll meet here rely on survival strategies inherited from their ancestors, such as collectivism and commitment to social change. They infuse popular education, activism, and collective ownership into their work."

Overall, black farmers only make-up less than 2 percent of all farmers, a far cry from a century ago, when numbers were much higher, Penniman writes. She took a look at five African American individuals or groups that are making a living farming, including the Tuskegee United Leadership and Innovation Program (TULIP) in Alabama. "Members grow traditional African-American crops such as okra, corn, squash, watermelon, eggplants, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, and a special variety of purple sweet potato bred by George Washington Carver, a renowned black agriculturalist. They supply three local grocery stores and two restaurants, and train their neighbors to start their own home gardens." (Yes! graphic)

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