The Role of Black Farmer Organizers in Promoting Healthy and Sustainable Local Community Food Access

Project Overview

GS22-270
Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,911.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Kim Niewolny
Virginia Tech

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Sustainable Communities: community development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, quality of life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Black farmers play an integral role in cultivating sustainable agricultural systems and promoting viable economic development. That notwithstanding, the number of Black farmers in the U.S. is steadily declining; which poses a risk to sustainable agricultural development and socially just food access in the U.S (Jennings, 2020). Black farmers are also actively serving as leaders in rural and urban communities, addressing historically complex food system needs from food production to food access (White, 2018). For such an important contribution, little is still known regarding how the collective leadership of Black farmers shapes the creation and trajectory of sustainable food systems in local communities. This project aims to fill that gap through a community-based case study approach with Black farmer organizers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, who are actively farming and providing local leadership to address the core goals of sustainable food system development (i.e., soil health, food access, social justice, and economic wealth) in their communities. Furthermore, this study aligns the findings through a collective agency lens for analyzing the synergies embedded in the Black farmer networks and how they are building sustainable local food access pathways. Finally, the study aims to identify recommendations for sustainable community development through agriculture led by Black farmers as illustrations of self-determination and community resiliency. These findings are of significant benefit to community stakeholders, local food movement actors, sustainable agriculture service providers, extension professionals, and rural/urban farmers. Although the study is specific to Virginia, the research may have broader implications for similar geographical regions.

     

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. To understand how Black farmer organizers and their networks and synergies are building sustainable local food access pathways.
    2. To identify recommendations for sustainable community development through Black farmer-led initiatives as illustrations of self-determination and community resiliency.
    3. To determine the contemporary patterns leading to the decline of Black farmers.
    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.