Help build a more equitable food system by investing in Black Farmers!
The Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund is transforming our community through food sovereignty and land justice by investing in Black Farmers who have long been denied access to land and resources.
We are raising our first round of funding from September 10 - October 8, 2021!
Our goal is to raise $50,000 to support 5-10 black farmers in Washtenaw and surrounding counties.
These funds will be used to:
- Provide down payment support to purchase land
- Reduce debt related to farming
- Purchase of farm equipment
- Develop farm Infrastructure
- Cover other operational and labor costs
The Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund is managed by a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to creating a more just and equitable local food system. Coalition members include Argus Farm Stop, Growing Hope, Willow Run Acres, Fair Food Network, We The People Opportunity Farm, Old City Acres, Washtenaw County Food Policy Council, and MSU Extension. The Coalition is led by Keesa V. Johnson.
NEW serves as the fiscal sponsor for the Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund so your donation will be passed through that organization.
From a height of approximately 15% of farmers in the 1910s, Black Farmers are now and have been for decades, a mere 1% of farmers nationwide. The intergenerational trauma of Black farmland loss cuts so deep because it isn’t over. Gentrification and speculative development continue to limit the availability of city-owned vacant land, and all too often what’s considered the “best use” of city-owned land comes down to money.
The Washtenaw Black Farmer Fund seeks to support Black growers with the capital they need to become land secure by reaching out to our community to support this effort in a show of cooperative economics and responsibility. Today, there are 2,134 farmers who work and live within Washtenaw County. Of these 2,134 farmers, 18 identify as Black.
This disparity was not created by mistake.
Black farmers in Washtenaw County face immeasurable barriers to land acquisition, autonomy, and ownership. This comes to light as we witness black growers who are unable to purchase the property they grow on. This is land where black farmers and gardeners grow produce to serve neighbors, families, and the community as a whole. Oftentimes, the funding to buy the land is the only barrier. This has to change.
Historically, there has been funding allocated for the farming community in the form of grants or loans to purchase land, recuperate from losses, or receive the technical assistance needed to expand their oppositions. In Washtenaw County, these funds have not been offered or awarded to black farmers. Inequitable systems in Washtenaw County have predetermined the incredibly low rate of success for Black farmers.
Too many Black farmers share stories of USDA officials spitting on them, throwing their loan applications in the trash, and illegally denying them loans. In 2020 $26 billion was allocated for farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Of this, farmers of color only receive 0.1% of this funding. The Land Justice for Black Farmers Act was introduced by Senator Cory Booker later that year. This act acknowledges and aims to address and correct historic discrimination within the US Department of Agriculture in federal farm assistance and lending that has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed them and their families of hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth.
While this is a good first step for our country, we need to take steps locally to achieve a just and equitable county. Everything we know changed in 2020 and the weight of food and land insecurity continue to loom heavily. Our way forward is through collaborative forward-thinking action and mutual aid.
We are committed to the right relationship with the land, the transformation of our communities through food sovereignty, and the revitalization of Washtenaw’s agricultural landscape. We honorably steward this fund to support Black Farmers in land acquisition and farm support.
We are not asking you to pick up a weapon and fight, we are asking you to be the weapon, to join us in creating systems that aren't extractive and exploitative, but holistic and nurturing. To support Black farmers and to protect our land. We've got so much work to do, but together we move with the love and reverence of Freedom Fighters who have come before, who fight unjust wars in neighboring lands, and with our brothers and sisters who have been stripped of their human rights in the prison industrial complex. The work continues here and now.