Southern Farmer Leadership Fellowship for Farmer-led Racial Equity and Sustainability Projects in the South

Project Overview

LS22-386
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $49,767.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: National Young Farmers Coalition
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Olivia Cleveland
National Young Farmers Coalition
Co-Investigators:
Katherine Un
National Young Farmers Coalition

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: networking
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, leadership development, quality of life, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) farming and ranching is deeply intertwined with the development of sustainable agriculture in the United States (Federation of Southern Cooperatives, n.d.; Penniman, 2018). We owe many resilient agricultural systems and techniques-- key seeds and livestock genetics (Carney, 2013), irrigation systems (Iwata, 1962), fire safe land management (Sommer, 2020), and creative local food supply chains (Sandoval & Rodine, 2020) among them --to Black, Indigenous and Native, Coolie laborer, and Latinx diasporic traditions.

    Our project is rooted in this resilient history and driven by the perspective that BIPOC farmer knowledge and creativity is inseparable from the development of sustainable agriculture. In addition to their enduring impact, we recognize the continued exclusion of farmers of color from Southern agriculture. Our project addresses these twin truths through a fellowship program designed to equip young, BIPOC farmers to become changemakers in their communities and beyond. The year-long program aims not only to educate and resource participants, but heal and connect them. In a space that is both nourishing and educational, fellows will learn from mentorship and one another to build the networks, skills, and energy necessary to act as local, regional, and federal advocates. Our objectives are to:

    1. Identify 6 farmer leaders across the South already impacting their local or regional farm and food systems at the nexus of racial equity and sustainability. 
    2. Launch the Southern Farmer Leadership Fellowship for Farmer-led Racial Equity and Sustainability Projects.
    3. Provide 6 fellows with over 10 hours of collective programming on Southern sustainability and equity organizing history, the equity advocacy landscape, leadership development, racial equity, and program management.
    4. Provide 10 hours of tailored support to fellows to identify their communities’ major areas of need and opportunity through established advocacy tools such as SWOT analysis and power-mapping followed by 10 hours of no-cost access to national experts capable of meeting identified needs and opportunities. 
    5. Provide support to each fellow to identify sources of funding for their work; at least one grant application or other fundraising opportunity.
    6. Publish 6 case studies that are accessed broadly by our network of over 200,000 supporters and present fellows’ work via a public webinar.

    We visualize Southern, farmer-led advocacy as a loop; young, BIPOC farmer leaders leveraging their training and place-based, lived experiences to drive policy change at the local, regional, and federal levels and build equity and sustainability into their home communities. We are equipping BIPOC farmer leaders with the tools to originate projects and policy solutions that solve the urgent needs of their local communities, and are inspired by them. Fellows finish the program empowered to enact their visions for more sustainable, equitable communities and to communicate ideas effectively to local elected officials. By tapping into our national network and farmer-led advocacy infrastructure, our Southern fellows’ infectious energy will be amplified to the national stage to win big, strategic victories for young farmers everywhere.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Understanding the rich impact of farmers of color on Southern agriculture as well as the reality that they continue to be marginalized from it, this program resources young BIPOC farmers to become experts on and advocates for local and regional policy change that serves their communities and their work. The fellowship is designed to not only mobilize, but heal; the restorative space will support fellows to cultivate energy and confidence to act as local, regional, and federal advocates. 

    1. Spotlight - Select 6 Southern farmer fellows impacting their loco-regional farm and food systems at the nexus of racial equity and sustainability. 
    2. Educate - Provide fellows with 10+ hours of collective curriculum on Southern sustainability and equity organizing history; Southern advocacy landscape; leadership development; racial equity; and program management.
    3. Activate - Provide fellows with 10 hours tailored education to identify their major areas of need and opportunity through SWOT analysis followed with 10 hours of no-cost access to national experts who can respond to those identified needs and opportunities. 
    4. Resource - Support fellows to identify sources of funding and support each project on at least one grant application or other fundraising opportunity.
    5. Share - Publish 6 case studies that are accessed broadly by our network of over 200,000 supporters.
    6.  
    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.