We support Black lives not just in general or as consumers of our food, but also supporting Black farmers, and supporting efforts for Black communities to own the means of production. Black Farmers Matter.
There is inequity in the food system. We’re committed to food justice, but by “food justice,” we mean not only making good food accessible to everyone.
Barr Farms Food Justice definition:
- A robust local food system that makes high quality, chemical-free food accessible to everyone, regardless of income, race, geography or other factors, raised in a way that enhances soil and the environment and that financially supports local farms and farm workers.
- Recognizing that the mainstream food system is nested in our society that includes classism, racism, urbanism and other oppressions and working to build just systems.
In Kentucky, Black farmers account for only 1.4% of farmers (farm owner/operators). This low representation is not by accident. It’s based in centuries of racist policies and practices, whether intentional or unintentional.
The history of injustice in the society and in agriculture is well documented. Even as recently as this century, Black farmers were discriminated against at the USDA.
“The history of U.S. agriculture is inseparable from the history of U.S. racism. Indigenous land dispossession, slavery, the ongoing exclusion of racial minorities from federal agricultural programs and support systems, present day exploitation enabled by lack of labor protections for agricultural workers, and disempowering immigration policies are all examples of the ways in which racism has been woven into agriculture on every level since this land was colonized,” states the National Young Farmers Coalition Racial Equity Toolkit.
With these historical and current inequities, Adam and Rae are both personally committed to making racial equity a priority, not just in our personal lives, but in our public life as well.
Barr Farms is committed to:
- Continuing to grapple with the privilege of land acquisition, passed on through seven generations until today. This land is Cherokee land. (Also, Osage, Shawnee and Adena)
- Understanding our privilege of accessing grants and loans through USDA, Farm Credit and other organizations.
- Ensuring our food is accessible, through participation in New Roots, an organization that is founded on principles of collective organizing and building community power.
- Continuing to learn from Black farmers, be supportive of and attempt to build true partnerships with Black-led farm organizations.
- Financially supporting Black-led and people of color led farmer organizations as we are able.
- Farming is hard, even with privilege. We commit to sharing what we’ve learned when asked and appropriate… not coming in to “save the day” but offering the knowledge resources we’ve built in our farming journey.
With these commitments, we also recognize that we fall short in how we have showed up. We’ve showed up in our personal lives, we’ve showed up in discussions and readings and learning, but we have work to do in building true allyship with Black-led organizations and speaking out and showing up in our business. We commit a lifelong practice or prioritizing racial equity in both our personal and public life.
Learn more, and take action!
Have a conversation... one of the things I love about food, is it's unifying. Whether you agree or disagree with this, make some good food and have a conversation with someone with a different opinion. We all can learn from each other!
Support Black-led organizations helping Kentucky’s Black farmers. A great place to start is:
Black Soil: The mission of Black Soil: Our Better Nature is to reconnect black Kentuckians to their legacy and heritage in agriculture.
Kentucky State University: An historically black university with an excellent agriculture and farmer outreach program that serves limited resource and minority farmers. They offer research, grants, workshops for farmers and more.
Where can you go to learn more about racial inequity and solutions in the farming and food systems space?
Farming While Black by Leah Penniman is an excellent book. Primarily written to encourage new Black farmers, it includes a section for how white people can support. It’s full of important historical and current information, such as how to establish farm cooperatives, the origins of CSA in the Black community, creative financing options and much more.
Follow @Sylvanaquafarm on Instagram and Twitter.
National Young Farmers Coalition has many excellent articles, and a racial equity toolkit. Highly recommended.
Food Solutions New England’s 21 Day Racial Equity and Habit Building Challenge: https://foodsolutionsne.org/21-day-racial-equity-habit-building-challenge/
National Black Farmers Association
 If you’re thinking, “all lives matter,” well of course they do! But if you can’t affirm that Black Lives Matter, then how can all lives matter? The point is that our society treats black lives as if they don’t matter as much as white lives, as seen in the many disparities in our society from health outcomes to the prison system. Saying “Black lives matter” is a way of trying to bring equality.