If you missed our webinar, Justice for Black Farmers: A Local Perspective, you can still view a recording of it at the link below!
In June, 2020, Tepfirah Rusdan, co-director of Keep Growing Detroit, worked with Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Oakland Avenue Urban Farm to launch the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund. Recognizing that access to capital can be one of the biggest barriers to Black land ownership, the fund was created to financially support Black farmers in purchasing the property they currently farm or plan to farm. The three community organizations had a goal to raise $5000 and by the end of the year they had raised $65,000 and granted funds to 30 Black farmers.
In November, 2020, the Land Justice for Black Farmers Act was introduced by Senator Cory Booker with the aim to address and correct historic discrimination within the US Department of Agriculture in federal farm assistance and lending that has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed them and their families of hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth. In 1920 there were nearly 1 million Black farmers in the United States. Today, due to this history of discrimination, it is estimated that there are less than 50,000 remaining Black farmers.
The Justice for Black Farmers Act will enact policies to end discrimination within the USDA, protect remaining Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers to restore the land base that has been lost, and implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States.
What can we learn from these regional and national initiatives? What is the unique experience of Black farmers in Washtenaw County and how does it relate to these initiatives? Tune in to listen to the lived experiences of these panelists and learn more about the efforts to change the systemic discrimination experienced by Black farmers in the United States.
Tepfirah Rushdan, known affectionately as Tee, is a Co-Director at Keep Growing Detroit. Tee is a native Detroiter that is passionate about serving the community. She has combined her love for people and nature through various environmental projects in Detroit, including developing conservation skills in youth, vacant land remediation, youth and adult farmer training programs, wild edible walks, community gardening and climate change and resiliency research. Learn more
Norris Stephens of Good Medicine Farm is a second generation farmer who grew up in Romulus, Michigan. His farm is located in Milan, Michigan and he has been a vendor at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market since 1989. Although he started helping out on his parents’ farm as a 10 year old kid, Norris attributes his love of gardening to his grandparents who “always had a garden.” Learn more
Jesse Raudenbush is the owner of Starr Valley Farms (a worm farm), headquartered Ann Arbor, Michigan. Farmer Jesse has been worm farming for 40 yrs and attributes his life in agriculture to his late Grandmother, Maggie Pipkins. Jesse is an Advanced Master Gardener and certified Michigan Master Composter while also being an instructor for the long running composting educational program. Jesse has been a member of Project Grow Community Gardens’ Board of Directors for nearly a decade where he helps to offer composting, gardening and farming knowledge to the community at large. Learn more
Alexander Ball is the owner/farm manager of Old City Acres, which is located in Sumpter, Michigan. He started the farm in 2013 with the simple goal of growing high quality food for those in his local community. Alex’s main focus and goal is providing the freshest, tastiest, and most nutrient dense food possible to the local south east Michigan community for all 12 months of the year. Learn more
Willow Run Acres is an Ypsilanti based educational organization run by founder, T.C. Collins, that teaches gardening and farming for all skill levels and age groups.