Black Farmers Look to Regain Their Land - Modern Farmer

Black Farmers Look to Regain Their Land

This group needs to raise $125,000 to buy 20 acres in rural Mississippi.

Teresa Springs is part of a group of Black farmers looking to buy land of their own.
Photography courtesy of Avery Jackson

The number of Black farmers in America is strikingly low, but it wasn’t always this way.  

In the early 20th century, formerly enslaved people and their descendants owned 14 million acres of land. Since then, more than 90 percent of Black farmers have lost their land for a number of reasons, but in large part due to discriminatory practices at the USDA. Over the years, many Black farmers were denied loans and credit, lacked access to legal defense against fraud and were subjected to acts of violence and intimidation. 

A new generation of Black farmers is looking to regain the land that was stripped from their grandparents. Avery Jackson is among them. A group of farmers, including Jackson, who is the grandchild of sharecroppers in Mississippi, is looking to fundraise $125,000 in order to buy 20 acres that belonged to a recently deceased Black grower in their community. 

It is a critical responsibility of Black people, particularly Black agrarians, to think seriously about the ways that we can compost the harm and the toxicity that has been planted in our community,” Jackson says.  “This project is an act in itself for taking it on and committing to it for the long term future.” 

The initiative, “Black Land Matters: Help Save a 20 Acre MS Farm,” has racked up more than $75,000 since it was first launched on June 22. The end goal would allow the group to buy the land debt-free. Some of the funds will also go towards getting the land back into farming shape, as it’s been a number of years since it was actively farmed on. 

A group of Black farmers in Mississippi is looking to fundraise $125,000 to buy 20 acres that belonged to a recently deceased Black grower in their community. Photo by Avery Jackson

Once acquired, the land will be put into a trust to ensure the Black farmers involved in the initiative own it collectively. Jackson says they’re hoping to take ownership within the next two months. Over the next six to 12 months, they will work the land to bring it back to a state it can be farmed on. 

The group’s long term goal is to turn the farm into an agriculture training centre that will be an inclusive space for Black trans, queer and non-binary growers. This will involve teaching organic, regenerative farming practices and other land-based skills to aspiring Black farmers. 

The creation of such a place is an act of resistance, Jackson says, to the intolerance that is deeply entrenched in the South. And Jackson says having the funds to buy this land will help to eliminate some of the barriers that still exist for Black farmers. “Mississippi has experienced a lot of resource discrimination,” Jackson says. 

If the group exceeds its $125,000 goal it will look to contribute extra funds to other Black farming initiatives in need of support. It’s important, Jackson says, to build on their momentum in order to keep the legacies of Black southern farmers alive.  

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Otis Needleman
18 days ago

I like to see people of any color buy land and farm. Wish this group well. Looks like their funding drive will make it. Have contributed. However, buying the land won’t be enough. Without some working capital these farmers may not be able to buy tools. equipment, seeds, fertilizer, property taxes, insurance, emergencies, etc. So would suggest the GoFundMe increase their goal enough to cover these expenses for at least one year. A humble suggestion…EVERYTHING is politicized these days. Why don’t we stop it? This project is a good project, period, without looking at any of the racial issues involved.… Read more »

jared
18 days ago

Most people have to fund their own vanity projects. An awful lot of farmers — white, black, whatever — lost their farms in the Twentieth Century, sometimes due to predatory lending, and were unable to recover. Suicides, even murders, occurred. It’s sad that good people of all races lost their land, but I really don’t care about special pleadings for just one racial group. Farming is about as real as life gets, and if you want to be a farmer (not just a hobbyist) you have to put your Big Boy pants on and suck it up: weather, disease, markets,… Read more »

Casey
18 days ago

maybe a link as to where we can donate would be nice. and certainly appreciated

Bear Napes
18 days ago

I think this is awesome. I’d love to donate.

18 days ago

The link is in the paragraph above the image.
The initiative, “Black Land Matters: Help Save a 20 Acre MS Farm,” has racked up more than $75,000 since it was first launched on June 22. The end goal would allow the group to buy the land debt-free. Some of the funds will also go towards getting the land back into farming shape, as it’s been a number of years since it was actively farmed on. 

Last edited 18 days ago by D.B.Lawrence
Jason
13 days ago

So the USDA’s past institutionalized racism affected people of color and the solution is to use the Green New Deal to….. wait for it….. institutionalize current racism? Give special privelidge to a group of living people because of what the history books say about a group of other people? Only in 2020 can you punish a group of people by omitting them because of the color of their skin and on one had it is applauded and the other disdained.

John T Hamann
18 days ago

In the same vein, the Reparations Summer campaign is another great one to check out as well!

Last edited 18 days ago by John T Hamann
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