Meet the Modern Farmer: Jamila Norman

jamila normal patchwork city farms

Shannon McCollum

Patchwork City Farms
Atlanta, Georgia

“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.”

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Meet the Modern Farmer: Jamila Norman