“I think it’s safe to say I’m the only solo black female farmer in Atlanta,” declares Jamila Norman. Her initial plan for this acre in the predominantly African-American West End neighborhood – leased from the city’s public school system – involved supplying students with fresh-grown produce. But, says Norman, “I wasn’t able to get food into the cafeterias because of bureaucracy and red tape.”
Though the 36-year-old wound up selling her organic collards, carrots, and Green Zebra tomatoes through the usual CSA and farmers-market channels, the mother of three fulfills her original educational mission by hosting an after-school program. “Kids are sometimes grossed out by things that come out of the ground. We have to teach them that it’s better like this.”
Patchwork City also doubles as a community space for picnics, jam sessions, and, this past June, a Father’s Day party. “Black men get a bad reputation, and I wanted to celebrate dads who do a great job for their kids every day,” explains Norman, who emphasizes the for-profit, entrepreneurial nature of her efforts. “This is a business. It’s important for people to see that farming is a viable career. Women can start farms. Black people can do it, too.”
Video created by Anthony-Masterson Productions
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