Improving community outreach and education methods in Sustainable Agriculture

Final report for FNC21-1310

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $15,781.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Sankara Farm LLC
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Ryan Tenney
Sankara Farm LLC
Expand All

Project Information

Description of operation:

Sankara Farm is a 27-acre Black family owned and operated farm which serves individual consumers and secures commercial accounts. We produce seasonal, organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. Access to fresh, organic produce happens through our CSA and is distributed at two locations within Kansas City’s food insecure urban areas. Additionally, we utilize the farm for diverse agritourism opportunities, offering agroecological workshops and homeschool field days. Before receiving the grant we did practice organic methods and biodynamic practices at the beginning of our farming operation.

We are relatively large as an urban farm in Kansas City at 27 acres in the Little Blue Valley. Eight of our acres are used for diversified vegetable production. As a minority owned business, we cultivate direct connections to communities of color and families who are living in food insecure urban areas, engaging new ideas and practices to meet the goal of bringing fresh, organic, and sustainable produce to food insecure households.


Our project addresses the lack of information and resources on sustainable agriculture available to food insecure households. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment in minority households resulted in a major increase in the demand for access to local food, plants, seeds, and resources to ameliorate increasing food insecurity. Sankara Farm and Soulutionary Wellness LLC experienced increased demand for seeds, transplants, and educational opportunities in sustainable agriculture due to this dual crisis.

 “Feed Ourselves to Free Ourselves” project will provide outreach, education and resources to new growers and students and increase the capacity for sustainable community production, including the increased capacity to produce and distribute transplants, seeds and resources for sustainable agriculture practices in food insecure communities. We will increase capacity by improving our irrigation system, expanding pollinator habitat, plant propagation capacity and provide a culturally relevant interactive Agritourism experience and educational opportunities for minority and food insecure households. 

Project Objectives:


  1. Increase access to local healthy produce and sustainable agricultural resources to food insecure households
  2. Provide hands-on workshops demonstrating value-added production, herbalism, and nutrition
  3. Introduce the concepts of sustainable agriculture to the public through group discussions, video presentations, book readings, and mural
  4. Provide community with resources on sustainable agriculture by purchasing Farming While Black (2018), and The Cooking Gene (2017) for 20 participants including 10 High School students  and 10 community participants
  5. Increase access to culturally relevant sustainable agriculture resources for minority communities
  6. Increase native pollinator habitats 
  7. Increase water use efficiency by installing moveable irrigation system to pollinator garden


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Izula Maximillen - Producer


Materials and methods:


This project will provide a culturally relevant, educational approach focused on giving participants hands-on learning experiences and on developing the capacity for sustainable community production. The project will provide the increased capacity to produce and distribute transplants, seeds, and resources for sustainable urban agriculture practices in food insecure communities. The project will provide equipment, irrigation, and seed stock to germinate and propagate native beneficial plants and edible perennials as well as seasonal vegetables and herbs.

This project will include 4 hands-on workshops on Seed Sovereignty, Urban Herbalism, Natural Beekeeping and Seed Saving; and 4 Soil Sovereignty Virtual Field Trip and Q&A sessions with Soul Fire Farm Curriculum: "Land loss and Resistance" to bring together small and large scale farmers within the community. We will explore the history of herbalism, beneficial plant identification, sustainable harvesting methods, medicinal and perinatal herb preparations. The project will explore beekeeping traditions, the importance of bees to food systems, and expand a demonstration garden featuring pollinator habitats.

The project will facilitate two group discussions on sustainable agriculture by hosting a virtual book reading and group discussion using Farming While Black, 2017 by Leah Penniman and The Cooking Gene, 2018 by Michael Twitty. Copies of each book will be purchased for program participants. We will coordinate transportation for 10 students from DeLaSalle High School to Sankara Farm to participate in hands-on sustainable agriculture activities facilitated by farmer Ryan Tenney. exploring value-added production, culinary arts, concepts and practices of sustainability. We will incorporate a mural detailing the history of African Americans in agriculture to promote sustainability in using creative ,culturally relevant methods to a new generation of growers. The program will conclude with a video presentation and food tasting event at Sankara Farm.

Research results and discussion:

We successfully implemented our sustainable agriculture reading group. We facilitated 23 sessions with an average of 5 participants for each session. The majority of our book readings were recorded. We discussed a wide range of topics and read 2 books, Farming While Black, by Leah Penniman and The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty. The discussions were generative and educational and led to deeper knowledge of the history of African Americans in Agriculture.

Participation Summary
2 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
14 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
16 On-farm demonstrations
7 Online trainings
1 Published press articles, newsletters
5 Tours
12 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: Cooking Demonstration and Book Discussion in partnership with MOHives KC's Harvest Dinner Celebration 9/26/21

Participation Summary:

3 Farmers participated
3 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

The activities outlined above were carried out as part of the Feed Ourselves to Free Ourselves Project. We began with developing a program handbook, flyers, and media kit. Our first workshop was coordinated with ECOS youth group who helped promote the project and provided culturally relevant sustainable agriculture education to a group of 12 youth. The on-farm demonstrations were carried out in collaboration with Citizens of the World Charter School, University of Missouri Extension 4-H Summer Youth Program, and MOHives KC and brought over 100 youth to our farm.

We utilized social media, collaboration with partner organizations, University of Missouri Extension and community based organizations to share program flyers and outreach materials. We also mobilized local social justice organization, OneStruggleKC to promote the project.


Project Events

Harvest Bites and Honey Flights Workshop

Ida Mae Patterson Prenatal Clinic Workshops

Citizens of the World Charter School Summer Program

University of Missouri 4-H Summer Program

ECOS Youth Group

On-Farm Sweet Potato Planting Workshop

Virtual Pollinator Workshop with MOHivesKC youth

Urban Herbal Apothecary Garden tours for Doula Trainees

Outreach Materials

Copy of Feed Ourselves to Free Ourselves handbook



Working with various organizations allowed us to create events, coordinate dates, and cooperatively carry out outreach in order to ensure participation. The ECOS youth group consisted of 12 youth and 2 youth group coordinators. Citizens of the World Charter School consists of 30-35 youth and 5 coordinators over the course of 4 on-farm workshop days. We facilitated field days for 16 youth with the University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth summer program.

Learning Outcomes

6 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Lessons Learned:

This project affected our farm operation in many ways. We were able to integrate educational programming and produce outreach materials that have proven useful in our operation. We found that our outreach greatly improved our reach and effectiveness of the number of people engaged in our educational programs. The COVID-19 precautions that we took was a barrier to having more frequent meetings and meetings indoors.

Project Outcomes

3 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
2 Grants received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.