- To help Black and African-identified people learn, practice and reconnect with cultural and bioregional methods of preparing and regenerating soils, creating compost,
- To assist in the increasing interest by these community members to sustainably and organically grow, harvest, and share fresh herbs, flowers, berries, and produce.
- To teach, education, and orientate Black and African-identified youth, adults, and elders (multigenerational) to the responsibility, cooperation and ecological awareness necessary to manage land sustainably and build a generational food economy.
- To be an active resource for sustainable organic gardening and small farming, and build a more equitable community food system.
The Problem: The absence of a land-sovereign multipurpose cultural anchor, gathering place, and economic innovation space in which to regenerate, incubate, and add/expand value to our diverse ethnic and cultural tapestry of expressions of food as a health and wealth building strategy.
As it relates to the Black communities of Oregon, the identified and continued inequities; accessing capital, ability to scale-up, critical issues of land exclusion, ownership loss and business struggles in a still biased and flawed environments have driven much of the currently drive to increasing local and regional interest in the innovation of local food economies.
The opportunity to produce and deliver healthy, local, regeneratively grown food and value-added products that elevate and empower our diverse community assets, excellent growing climate, rich alluvial soils, and most importantly, the ethnically and culturally specific growing opportunities. However, for local Black and Brown long-term residents, refugees, immigrants, and other low-income people who would like to build on their farming experience to meet that demand and achieve financial independence, the obstacles to realizing their dream of owning a profitable farm business proves to be challenging, and often insurmountable.
A lack of flexible access capital, limited knowledge of how to run a business in compliance with legal regulations locally, the adjustments to dominant-market culture, unfamiliarity with the local growing climate, and difficulty acquiring and holding land are just a few of the challenges facing a would-be farm operator.
Our Answer: Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Mudbone Grown, Black Community of Portland, WeGrowPDX, and African Family Holistic Health Organization are working together to help Black and Brown Diaspora-impacted low-income/high-barrier, agriculturally experienced refugees and immigrants, and transition populations overcome those obstacles and work together to create a regional scale farming and food production-related business linked to wrap-around services and housing. To do this, we are creating a farm incubator that will provide:
- Access to land at subsidized scaled-to-income rates;
- A comprehensive ethnic/language-aligned educational program covering farming, business planning, greenhouse operations, and market path training;
- On-site mentorship from experienced Black and African farmers;
- Opportunity to build sustained financial independence as well as broader community wealth building capacity;
- Access to equipment, water and other necessary inputs;
- Assistance in creating marketing channels for products.
Woven throughout the participants’ experiences will be a capacity development component in which every process that independent growers are required to go through will be simulated in their on-site interactions – from developing a basic food business plan to negotiating a land lease agreement, to gaining food-handlers certification, and harvesting speciality crops for market. Participating growers, producers, and farmers receive one-on-one support, when necessary, for these and other tasks essential to the operation of a successful small food program or business.
At the heart of this project is the idea that participants learn best how to operate a small plot growing space by actually seeing and learning the work of operating, in a supportive environment, a large garden and small farm, and they learn sustainable growing practices by actually running a small agricultural business. This learn-by-doing concept has already been proven successful.
BFSC VISION: LIBERATED BLACK PEOPLE BUILDING COMMUNITY WEALTH & FOOD SOVEREIGNTY