BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)–What do you think of when you think of farming? Most of us think of an old man wearing a straw hat and overalls who spends his day working in a field or in a barn. You know, the typical stereotype. As we face unprecedented times, ask yourself this question, “Do I know my neighborhood produce grower or fisherman?”
A group of black farmers believe they can change the local scope of farming with your help. The Generational Growers Coalition is a group of four farms/organizations that are currently training future farmers ranging in age from 12-55 years old.
GCC has launched a GoFundMe campaign that will allow them to provide 8 weeks of adequate programming and to train as many people as possible on how to successfully start their own farms.
This coalition is composed of the following entities:
- Sweet Jones Farms- A member based produce club that allows its members to create their own monthly product boxes that are shipped from their farm to your table. Their product catalog ranges from fresh berries and eggs to sunflowers and seafood. SJF is also one of the few black owned farms that are licensed to grow hemp and is Certified Farm to Table.
- Founding Fathers 4 Youth-A non-profit organization located in New Roads, La. Their motto is ” Building a foundation 4 the youth.” They focus on making the maximum positive effort for their community.
- JH Farm- A family based farm located in Angie, La. They are growing fruits and vegetables with open minds to grow more. They are working to provide the community with quality food from a name they can trust.
- Fontenot’s Green Acres Farm- If you love your okra fried, pickled or soaked in gumbo gravy then Fontenot’s Green Acres needs to be your local grower. Located in Opelousas, La they are one of the local hot spots for fresh okra and sweet potatoes.
“A program like this is needed for black communities,” says Fontenot’s Green Acres Farm owner Kenderick Fontenot. “Not only would it teach the black community to be self sustainable, but it would bring the black community closer together and be another stepping stone in the fight against poverty.
If you’re reading this and asking yourself “Why is the focus on teaching black farmers and not all farmers?”, here’s why.
Reports given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that black owned farms make up less than 2% of all farms in the United States. Today, there are only 45,600 black farmers in the U.S. and they own about 0.55% of America’s farmland, by comparison to the 95% of white farmers.
That is why this group is focusing on educating black people on how they can earn a new stream of income by farming and help provide new food sources in their neighborhoods. The owner of Sweet Jones Farms, J’Quincy Jones Sr. says there is power in being able to feed people.
“Food is a necessity of life. In order to survive we need adequate nutrition that many do not have access to. Majority of the food we consume is killing us and if we can’t figure out how to substantially grow our own produce we’ll cease to exist. Being on the frontline helping people get good, fresh and pesticide free food is a duty I don’t take lightly.”
Unless you grew up around farming, becoming interested in this industry may take a bit of encouraging. For Chanselar Jefferson of JH Farm becoming a farmer was embedded in his DNA. He’s a seventh generation farmer and understands first hand how much value one could find in teaching farming to the next generation.
Farming has taught me that it is possible to be self sufficient. Seeing land passed down several generations is a rarity without it not being lost or sold. Together, I believe we can teach the young the importance of growing the same food you see in your local stores. New farmers who are older in age can be taught how to create generational sustainability.
Young people are constantly searching for options to secure their future and farming could be an alternative route. For Nicholas Victorian of Founding Fathers 4 Youth, he wants to use farming as a way out for inner city teens and give them something constructive and productive to engage in.
Introducing black kids to farming is a great way to give them options during their journey to become successful and opens the door of entrepreneurship. Farming can also change the stigma of African American health disparities while encouraging healthier lifestyles. Overall, an advantage of farming at a young age, is keeping young out of the crime infested streets. We can’t afford to continue losing our young Kings And Queens to the streets.
If you’re down for the cause, the Generational Growers Coalition needs your help. Donations can be given by heading to the link found here. Together, let’s help them motivate and increase the number of black farmers in Louisiana.
Applications to apply for the farming program will be available in January of 2021.
Anyone interested in corporate giving can email J’Quincy Jones Sr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.