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3 mins read

Black Farmer Fund Raises $11 Million to Support Black-Owned Agricultural and Food Businesses

The Black Farmer Fund was born out of a conversation between Karen Washington and Olivia Watkins, two farmer activists who met at a conference in 2017. They were both frustrated by the lack of financial assistance available for Black farmers, and they decided to do something about it.

In 2021, they launched the Black Farmer Fund (BFF), a nonprofit organization that invests in Black-owned food businesses located in the Northeast that use their businesses to build community wealth, move forward economic justice, practice ecological wellbeing, and are community-oriented.

Recently, the BFF announced that it successfully secured $11 million toward a $20 million fundraising target. The funding round was led by the New York Community Trust and the Ford Foundation, with participation from other foundations and individual donors.

The new funding will allow the BFF to expand its lending and technical assistance programs, and to invest in Black-owned food businesses that are working to address food insecurity and climate change.

The Black Farmer Fund also plans to use the funds to support its new Rapid Response Fund, which supports Black farmers & food actors in emergency situations including but not limited to equipment breakdown, weather damage, loss of crops or animals, medical expenses, stolen or damaged supplies, etc.

The fund provides low-interest loans and grants to Black farmers, herbalists, restaurant owners, caterers, food distributors, and other food-related entrepreneurs. It also provides technical assistance and training to help its investees succeed.

The BFF is a community-led fund, which means that the decisions about who to invest in are made by a committee of Black farmers, food entrepreneurs, and advocates. This ensures that the fund is meeting the needs of the Black farming and food justice community.

The Black Farmer Fund has already had a significant impact. In its first year of operation, the fund provided over $1 million in loans and grants to Black farmers and food businesses. The BFF also provided technical assistance and training to help its investees succeed.

The BFF has helped Black farmers and food businesses to:

  • Increase their access to capital
  • Improve their business practices
  • Develop new products and services
  • Expand their markets
  • Create jobs

The Black Farmer Fund is a significant step towards addressing the historical discrimination faced by Black farmers and ranchers in the United States. Today, just 1% of farmers in the United States identify as Black according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These numbers are down from 1 million Black farmers a century ago. In 1919, Black farmland ownership peaked at 16 to 19 million acres, about 14% of total agricultural land.

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1 min read

Black Farmer Finds Success During Uncertain Times

Despite the challenges now faced by many small business owners these days, a Black farmer in Seatlle is managing to survive and thrive.

Ras Peynado is the owner of Seattle based, Herban Farms. He is following the footsteps of his father, a fourth-generation farmer who lived and died in Jamaica.

In 2010, Ras began growing herbs on an urban farm while developing recipes with his friends and family. He now produces a range of sauces, seasonings, and spices.

In this interview, we discussed the importance of learning how to grow food and the relationship between old school farmers and new school farmers. We also discussed how the new wave of Black business support has impacted his business.

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Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

FAMU Secures $750,000 in Federal Scholarship Funds to Attract Students To Study Agriculture and Food Sciences

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) received $752,632 in federal funds for scholarships to attract high achieving students.

Funding from this 1890 Scholarship Program will provide 49 new scholarships for entering freshmen to pursue and obtain their baccalaureate degrees in food and agricultural sciences from FAMU in four years, and for qualified, transfer students in two years.

“The timing of this scholarship funding could not be more opportune,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “The present circumstances reinforce the need for us to train more scholars who can make advances in issues such as food security and create other opportunities in agriculture. These funds will allow FAMU to bring much needed and diverse talent to this area of critical need for our nation.”

The funding is one of 19 awards totaling $14 million to 1890 land grant colleges, which are historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The funding is made possible through NIFA’s 1890 Scholarships Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. FAMU alumnus U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., is credited with the scholarship appropriation’s inclusion in the legislation.

The grant program seeks to address a critical question facing the food and agricultural sciences industry, how does it attract more talented young, diverse persons into agricultural jobs, said CAFS Dean Robert Taylor.

“Indeed, this continues to be the major question that is being asked by faculty and administrators in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences at FAMU, as it tries to respond to the low, and in some cases, declining enrollment in some of its critical academic programs,” Taylor said.

With state and federal funding for education on the decline, the student debt burden continues to be high. The overall goal of this 1890 Scholarships Program is to address that issue by providing scholarships to support the recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of outstanding students as they pursue baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences in CAFS at FAMU.

Scholars will be recruited from across Florida and from neighboring states, such as Georgia and Alabama. High achieving students will be invited to apply to the FAMU 1890 Scholarship Program. In order to be selected, students must meet or exceed the stated criteria for the various scholarships advertised.

“This funding will help CAFS cultivate and graduate more diverse leaders, who will be well equipped to address and solve future emerging challenges in food and agricultural sciences,” Taylor said.


Source: FAMU News

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4 mins read

This Black Owned Pepper and Spice Farm Wants To Bring The Heat To Your Kitchen

Like many other Black owned businesses that have taken a hit in the past few months, Herban Farm is navigating how to survive and still serve the community.

We spoke with owner and operator, Ras Peynado to see how things are going.

black owned pepper farm
Ras Peynado, owner of Herban Farm

What inspired you to start a farm?

I was inspired by the story my mother told me about her and my father’s dream to own/operate an urban farm in Seattle, Wa. My parents never were able to realize this dream since father died in Jamaica, a poor rastaman.

I later took part of his humble lifestyle (farming) and turned it into a profitable lifestyle. I’m also inspired by my own passion for growing medical marijuana.

black owned pepper and spice farm
Ras and his late father.

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected your business?

GREATLY! The Coronavirus completely devastated my business sales. I operate at Pike Place Market 4-7 days a week year-round depending on the season with a small sales agent team.

We primarily depend on tourism. Tourists that come into the city and even more on cruise ship tourism from April-October. Tourism accounts for 85%-90% of my sales and since March have not been able to set up at market due to the statewide lockdown in Washington.

Black Owned Pepper and Spice Farm

How has it affected your lifestyle?

It’s been hard however I have been able to keep busy living on my urban farm. Spring is always a busy time of year with the start of the farm season also a very expensive time of year.

I am continually investing in infrastructure, supplies, kitchen and farm expenses. It’s really hard to continue to do that without cash flow or capital during these times.

I keep a good spirit and stay to my work. I’m not the only one experiencing this. I miss being at my market surrounded by a community of over 100 farmers and 300 craftspeople.

What new strategies have you implemented or do you plan to implement in your business?

Working with local partners like Savor Seattle and the Atrium Kitchen At Pike Place to come up with creative ways to reach the locals. I create seasonings, sauces, vinegars and other infusions like my Hot Honey Sauce.

All new fresh flavors to use in the kitchen! This is the time when people are spending more time in the kitchen and needing to stay satisfied avoiding the same old stale flavors from the grocery store.

My partners have been able to gather other fresh local producers to create weekly boxes/bags that can be curbside picked up or delivered throughout the city services hundreds of customers so far.


If you had one ask of your community right now, what would it be?

To be patient with each other, to protect each other, to love each other, and to support each other.


Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

How One Man Turned His Backyard Garden Into a Community Farmers Market

When Jamiah Hargins moved to the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2015, he planted a backyard garden so he and his family (wife Ginnia and daughter Triana) could enjoy fruits and vegetables.

But that small plot produced more than they could eat. Not wanting all the herbs, lemons, and beans to go to waste, Jamiah posted on Nextdoor, the hyperlocal social network, to gauge his neighbors’ interest in a crop swap.

The turnout was substantial. Fifteen people showed up, bearing armfuls of artichokes, kale, onions, and pumpkins from their small backyards and container gardens.

Farmers Market

“I was delighted by how many people were willing to meet strangers on a Sunday morning,” Jamiah says. And they ended up exchanging thoughts as well as crops: Kristin Kloc figured she’d offload some oranges and be on her way. “But then we started talking about growing food and the importance of social equality,” she recalls.

The group steadily expanded to include about 100 people, and Jamiah created an official organization, Crop Swap LA. This past December, the group transformed an empty parking lot into a farmers market, complete with 10 stalls, food trucks, live music, and free yoga.

Members also help neighbors start their own urban gardens, and they’re investigating ways to use nearly every arable square inch of West Adams—business rooftops, parking lots, front yards—to grow more food. The goals are to transform an area thought of (by some) as a food desert and encourage resident involvement.


Source: Real Simple

Related: The Ultimate List of Black Owned Farms & Food Gardens


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