I recently launched a law practice in which I handle estate planning, estate administration, and heir property matters. These practice areas appealed to me because so much of my family’s wealth has been lost due to the failure to plan for life (and death). It’s been an exciting adventure so far.
My clients are great and I can see how I’m helping them. Plus, cool media outlets like Shoppe Black let me write articles for them so I can spread the gospel of the Black wealth preservation. It’s also been full of surprises. For example, I was invited to attend a workshop aimed at Black foresters. It never occurred to me that we own trees – lots of them! I have also networked with Black farmers and those who provide services for them ranging from financial, to legal, to skills building and beyond.
These connections were formed because of my heir property work. Heir property is land that has been inherited by multiple owners, typically because there was no will. Most folks reading this article either have a partial ownership interest in some land that once belonged to an older relative or we know someone who does.
Heir property is most often complicated and messy. And, Black owned land, particularly large pieces of land e.g. forests and farms, is often plagued by and lost to heir disputes. Hence, I’ve met more Black farmers and foresters in the last eight months than I have in my lifetime. Mostly, I talk to them about legal issues, what they grow, and their family trees (the lineage ones).
Recently, I had a vibrant discussion with Maurice Small, a renowned farmer and advocate, who left me with a simple task: buy Black grown food. That’s simple enough, right? Nope.
If you’re a busy person like me your priorities are around food nutrition, convenience, and how delicious it taste. You can add Black grown to that list but it is not simple to source Black grown food. I tried to eat all Black grown and made food for one day and I didn’t succeed. However, I wanted to share my journey so that myself and others can learn so more about how to pull this off successfully.
Saturday Morning 8am
My buddy, Carol, and I headed to the Durham Farmers’ Market. First we bought kale and sugar snap peas from Anabitu Farms. Anabitu means “from the heart of God”. Mr. and Mrs. Obie are so sweet!
Next we picked up some strawberries, cabbage, and potatoes from Pine Nut Farms.
Our final stop SEEDS, an educational community garden, where we bought some herbs and chatted with these two lovelies about Fros and fashion.
By this point we were hungry and short on time. We grabbed coffee and biscuits from some local spots, dropped our produce off at my place, and then headed to the woods for the Outdoor Afro-Triangle hike on the Eno River. This was so much fun! I haven’t hiked in the real woods since I was much younger!
After the hike we drove to Chapel Hill to visit Carol’s lovely aunts. I picked up lunch from the local co-op. Carol cooked for her aunts. We needed a siesta after the shopping, hiking, and visiting, but instead we went to the Mahogany Tennis Classic in Raleigh.
Later in the evening, we got dolled up for a 5-course dinner that highlighted the Indigenous and African origins of what we now know as Southern food. The food was amazing! Plus, we had an incredible discussion about food, history, resilience, and love.
Our Very Black Day was not complete without a nightcap. We finished up the brilliant day with a glass of Mounton Noir’s O.P.P. (Other People’s Pinot), which if you don’t know about Mouton Noir, you’d better ask somebody!
In retrospect, I realized I could have met my challenge if I had not been trying to do the most with life. I could have been intentional about setting time to make breakfast and lunch with the items I bought at the Farmers’ Market. Then all my meals would have been Black prepared. I continued to go to the same farmers for the next several weeks but fell off the Black grown wagon. It takes intention and planning, which I’m determined to reprioritize. However, all in all, it was truly a successful day, spent with amazing people and filled with amazing experiences. What kind of Shoppe Black Saturday can you embark upon?
– Contributed by Mavis Gragg
Mavis Gragg is an attorney at the Gragg Law Firm, PLLC in Durham, North Carolina where she specializes in estate planning and estate administration. She is very passionate about maintaining and growing Black wealth through sound legal strategies and problem solving. When she is not being a justice girl, she can be found at an art gallery, trotting the globe, or on the dance floor.