The Quintessential Black Farmer: African American Women Growers Unite
by Kirtrina Baxter
In recognition of women’s history month, I’d like to take a look at today’s African American women growers and how we are uniting in this new food movement. I just so happen to belong to a Facebook group that serves to connect women of color who have a love for growing food. In this forum, we discuss the many celebrations and tribulations of growing food and rejoice in individual accomplishments along the way. One of my sistaz on this page writes a wonderful blog called The Black/Land project. This project is set up to collect stories around the globe of how black people (or African descendants, as I like to say) relate to land. Through this project, she is able to connect with many different people of African descent.
This blog hosts an ongoing discussion of how women of African descent relate to land and place (there is also a video that accompanies this topic). It is of interest to note the diverse ways that these women relate to land, space and place. Some of the stories were very familiar to me, like one woman who said her mother, who was made to garden as a young girl, would not garden again because of this. I laughed when I heard this, thinking of how much I hated to weed my mother’s tomato garden as a child too! Some other stories were pretty foreign to me, like a women writer who loves horses tells the story of how she connected to the land while doing a project that included mules and horses. The stories ranged from women not feeling a relationship to the land at all before being asked about it, to those who relish in the wild daily. However, what resonated with each woman was a sense or understanding that land is important to us as a community, even if that had not been thought previously.
Back at the Facebook page, I smile as one sista talks about starting seed potatoes and another mentions building a raised bed for a friend because the weather is so nice. I grimace as one of my sistaz talks of throwing out her back pitching manure, and I sign on to car pool for an upcoming conference. There are beekeepers in this forum who speak with other women wanting to get started. They offer advice, resources and encouragement. All in all, this group has become a source of comfort to all of us who are remembering our connection to the land and creating opportunities for growth in our communities and families.
My point in mentioning these resources is to show the burgeoning interest of women of African descent in the food movement to connect with other women like them; to champion the need for women of African descent to have a safe space with which to connect and grow, but also the need to be recognized as necessary in this agricultural/food movement and to support each other’s efforts. May the ancestors continue to bless these women and their heroic endeavors to carry on their family farm, start a garden of their own, work actively for their community’s right to grow food, teach young people about growing food, among many other things, we steward the land as she helps us to heal.
And for all you who want to see a story of a Black woman farmer…check out this video: