Acres4Change Stewardship Education and Training Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2023: $134,483.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: Acres4Change
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem or Opportunity and Justification: In the United States, structural and economic barriers disproportionately impact the well-being and capabilities of historically marginalized groups. On average, Black families have $5.04 in net worth for every $100 held by White families, and Black families are 40% less likely to own property than White families (Bailey et al. 2020). According to the Guardian, the number of Black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889 Black farmers. Since then, the number has dramatically decreased with the US Department of Agriculture recently reporting that of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are Black (The Guardian, 29 April 2019). The underrepresentation of Black people in contemporary land ownership and agriculture is due to intergenerational impacts of systemic oppression. Legal barriers post-emancipation impeded land acquisition and kept Black families indebted to landowners; later, discriminatory lending practices prevented Black homeownership and devalued predominantly Black neighborhoods. Following COVID-19 market disruptions and affordability crises, Black people continue to be victims of land left and predatory lending. . 

    Solution and Approach: To reduce the negative impact of these challenges, Acres4Change creates economic stability through land access and ownership, professional development, and racial healing for minority groups, through three main objectives: supporting beginning farmers (“Stewards”) to become food secure and economically empowered through food production, sales of harvest, and ownership of land; establishing a professional network of farmers and landowners who are economically empowered and entrepreneurial self-starters; and providing Stewards with mental health and wellness support through social support and counseling resources. We launched our inaugural Stewardship Program cohort in May 2022 to pilot our model of dedicated, localized support for aspiring BIPOC farmers with our network of Baltimore-based partner organizations. With the support of these partners and experts, we have been working to provide the training and support services needed for Stewards to become successful farmers and landowners. In the short term, this capacity-building project will enable our Stewards to overcome many of the barriers that new, marginalized farmers face like basic and specialty agricultural training, access to racial healing support, and strong community partnerships. In the long-term, this project will equip Black farmers with the tools to generate sustainable income, foster a sense of belonging and community connectedness, and contribute to greater economic vitality in the surrounding communities of Baltimore, MD. Our approach is unique and effective because we’re distributing the land in coordination with partner organizations and their training programs. This model is efficient and sustainable because we leverage the expertise and programming of  our partners and create opportunities for earned income to fund generational wealth-building for our participants.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Five Black farmers in Baltimore, MD will be trained in mycoculture, vegetable farming, farm operations, and business skills in collaboration with Baltimore-area partners, including Black Yield Institute, Farm Alliance of Baltimore, Future Harvest, and Innovation Works Baltimore. Stewards will grow approximately 10-20 tons of mushrooms at an education and  demonstration site, complete the development of business plans, conduct direct-to-consumer sales and identify at least 2 markets for their 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.