Title: Sustainable urban agriculture entrepreneurship incubation for BIPOC and underserved communities in Springfield, Illinois

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: The Motherland Gardens Community Project
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Yves Doumen
The Motherland Gardens Community Project


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Based on our experience working in Springfield for the past three
years, we realized that BIPOC
community (youth and adults), particularly Blacks, have limited
knowledge in agriculture.
Almost everyone I came to contact with indicated that they have
never grown food in their life
which makes it difficult for them to get involved in community
garden to produce food. Even
though Motherland reserves some of the land for the community to
grow vegetables for
themselves, there was no interest until the food shortage
resulted from COVID-19 lockdown.
Since then, there has been an interest in learning how to grow
vegetables and how to prepare and
consume them. We intend to capitalize on this momentum and expose
more people in the
neighborhood to sustainable urban agriculture to grow a
culturally relevant food in different.
Therefore, we will provide training on basic agricultural
knowledge, including vegetables and specialty crops production,
we will reserve space in our 3 gardens for participants to
practice and implement knowledge learned. We will do cooking
demonstrations to teach people how to prepare vegetables and
meals from scratch. All this will be done with support of the
University of Illinois Extension.

Project objectives from proposal:

Our objectives stem from our five-year strategic plan and
are as follows:

1. Establish incubation program to inspire and train BIPOC
communities on agriculture entrepreneurship as an alternative
career to increase.
employment and income.

2. Establish a 2 community gardens on the South and East sides of
the City.

Objective 1.

Establish sustainable agriculture incubation program to inspire
and train BIPOC.
communities on food entrepreneurship as an alternative career to
increase employment.
As part of inspiring BIPOC and underserved communities to develop
interest and
entrepreneurship in agriculture and local food, we plan to
establish an incubation center in
Springfield. Recently, motherland has secured one a partnership
with a local farmer to use an acre of their farmland to train
Underserved and BIPOC communities' members in the understanding
of land access, getting involved in agricultural business,
including learning and developing community supported agriculture
(CSA) to provide healthy.
food for their neighbors while earning income. One of the
requirements of this new land is to use.
conservation and sustainable agriculture production practices.
This requirement is well aligned.
with the Motherland philosophy and values of regenerative
agriculture production. Beginning farmers will be trained in
different techniques, including vegetables production and
processing, compositing, mulching, crop rotation, integrated pest
management, and no-till or minimal tilling as appropriate. In the
next three years, we intend to enroll at least 10 beginning
farmers from BIPOC and underserved communities, and immigrants
interested in small-scale local food production and marketing.
Participant will receive training in production, agricultural
business development, including finding niche markets and to
provide fresh food to their communities where grocery stores are

Objective 2.

Established community's gardens in the South and East sides of
the City.
The needs for accessing fresh healthy and affordable food are
critical in Springfield. However,
there are many empty plots city and county owned land,
particularly in the Black neighborhoods.
Motherland purchased its current land from the County and has
established a good relationship.
with the county officials. We will use these relationships to
acquire more land and establish more
community gardens in the eastern and northern part of the City
where poverty and food
insecurity are concentrated. According to the non-profit Feed
America, 25 percent of the Black
in Springfield is food insecurity compared to 15 percent Hispanic
and 11.2 percent White. Most
of the underserved communities are concentrated in the 62703-Zip
code -east and north of the
city, with the east side being predominantly Black. Motherland
will use a similar approach.
discussed above to inspire community members to learn how to grow
food closer to their
neighborhoods. This will address issues of transportation that
affect low-income to participate in
community gardens far away from the neighborhoods.

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.