By the 1920s, Black farmers in the United States had acquired approximately 15 million acres of land. There were just under 1 million farms then, so Black people made up about 14% of all farmers in the country. Now there are less than 50,000 Black farmers, comprising roughly 2% of all farmers nationwide. Black land was lost through theft, discrimination in lending, improper documentation of ‘heir’s property’ (due to lack of access to legal services), increases in property taxes and more. Read more about this history here .
Off Grid In Color’s team is part of this class of landless Black farmers. Since its inception OGIC has moved its operation five times! The moment is right now to secure land to fulfill the mission and vision.
The business (including employees), the community, and Mother Earth.
What will the funds be used for?
The funds will be used to buy land and hire employees. About 2.5% of the funds will be used to wrap up our farm activities for the remainder of 2020.
How soon are funds needed?
We need all funds raised within a year or less.
Your support matters!
OGIC is where it is today because of the power of community. You all were there when we started out with 25 chickens back in 2017. In 2020, we've already raised over 800 chickens and provided quality meat to families. We could not have done this without you! Now it's time to set roots, and together we'll build our Homestead Sanctuary for Health and Wellness.
Whether you give $1 or $20k, it's all appreciated. We’re so grateful. THANK YOU!
Please continue reading for more details about OGIC, the land we seek, and the overall project.
Visualizing The Homestead Sanctuary
Imagine yourself taking a drive to Off Grid In Color’s Homestead Sanctuary for Health and Wellness.
You make your way down a graveled road that takes you through the woods. As you drive, you’re greeted by various breeds of pigs to your left and right. The trees stand tall but deeply rooted in the ground, gently swaying as the wind pushes on their branches. As you continue your drive you notice a few graveled streets that take you to various parts of the sanctuary. “Fannie Lou Hamer Wy” takes you to the livestock area, “Booker T Whatley Rd” swings you by our community center, "George Washington Carver Dr" invites you to the garden while passing through the orchard, and lastly you’re welcomed to “Margaret Charles Smith Blvd,” the womb healing space.
Finally the woods open up to the huge pasture. From left to right you see Richie’s Herb Garden, a pergola, barn house, and a flower and bee refuge. As you step out the car, a turkey pecks at your shoe and I extend my arms to embrace and welcome you to your sanctuary.
Richie’s Story and My Search for The (non-existent) American Dream
Back in 2014 my youngest brother Richie, just 19 years old, was shot several times in Chicago, IL. He was left paralyzed from the neck down. He suffered for 15 months and bounced between various nursing facilities that provided inadequate medical care. I was angry and depressed. I had done everything right. I got out the "hood," attended elite institutions and obtained two degrees, volunteered for AmeriCorps, traveled the world, and found a good paying job. But I was unhappy. The work was unfulfilling and my brothers, yes more than one, were being shot in Chicago. The media said it was gang related, but systemic oppression played a huge role in the death of my brother. From the lack of access to adequate food, housing, and education to the criminal justice and health care systems, all of these factors left the people in my community sick, tired, or dead. While my brother Richie struggled to survive, I had a difficult time adjusting to the 9 to 5 life in a job that left me unfulfilled. A year after my brother died, I quit my job and got lost in the woods to heal mentally and spiritually and to find liberation.
My healing and growth
While my brother was no saint, a lack of resources and opportunities made bad decision-making inevitable. I knew the only way to heal myself and my brother’s spirit was to seek guidance from Mother Earth. Through her I would learn that nature could meet ALL of my basic needs and provide me an income. I learned to garden, raise livestock, preserve food, and make my own home and body products. My brother’s death left me feeling like society and government policies, practices, and procedures did not care to provide high quality services for my and my community’s basic needs. Learning to provide for myself, using self-sufficient techniques helped me to overcome the disempowerment I felt after Richie’s transition.
Very early on in my journey, I began documenting my experience and discovered that I enjoyed farming. As I shared my journey, many people, particularly BIPOC, were interested in learning how they could get started healing and living off the land as well. In Richie's death I birthed Off Grid In Color. Its mission is to lead others to greater self-sufficiency through farm-raised meat, doula services and community outreach. Since our inception, we’ve pasture raised thousands of pounds of high quality meat and educated hundreds of people though workshops on health, wellness, and homesteading.
Land and Labor
Richie's Annual Farm-Raiser started primarily to raise funds for the end-of-the year activities on the farm. But this year, we're doing things a little differently. The year 2020 has exposed many inequities in our society, especially racial injustices. Two of the biggest challenges I've faced as a farmer are access to land and resources to pay for labor. The OGIC farm has moved FIVE times, and we’ve invested money, time, and resources in spaces that will not benefit us in the future. Farm work is not always glamorous. It's very labor intensive, and it often does not pay well. I’m so grateful for the spaces I’ve cultivated and the people who have volunteered or worked for little pay. These experiences have taught me how to care for and manage a farm, how to work with and supervise people, and how to manage projects. Most importantly, I've learned more about what the land needs are to implement the full vision of OGIC and what support is needed. Not having land and inadequate support has made it difficult to expand this work.
We are seeking ready-to-go farmland that has the following:
* No less than 20 acres.
* At least 8 acres of developed pasture
* Wooded land
* A few outbuildings in fair condition
* Electricity and water
* A house (not required but the land needs to have a space for a house in the future)
Budget for land: $350k
We are seeking labor :
* A Livestock Farm Manager
* A General Farm Hand (with experience gardening)
* An Administrative Assistant and Project Coordinator
All employees will receive a living wage plus basic medical insurance.
Budget for labor: $140K.
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE FARM!
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