To build a more equitable food system by investing in Black Farmers
Who We Are
The Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund (WCBFF) is transforming our community through food sovereignty and land justice by investing in Black Farmers who have long been denied access to land and resources.
We are a coalition of nonprofits, farmers, and community members working to build a more equitable and just food system.
Join the Movement
We are raising our first round of funding from September 10 - October 8, 2021!
Our goal is to raise $50,000 to support 5-10 black farmers in Washtenaw and surrounding counties.
These funds will be used to:
Provide down payment support to purchase land
Reduce debt related to farming
Purchase of farm equipment
Develop farm Infrastructure
Cover other operational and labor costs
Mail checks to: Nonprofit Enterprise at Work
Note WCBFF on check
1100 N Main St, Ste 100Ann Arbor, MI 48104
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Why is farming a social Justice issue?
From a height of approximately 15% of farmers in the 1910s, Black Farmers are now and have been for decades, a mere 1% of farmers nationwide. The intergenerational trauma of Black farmland loss cuts so deep because it isn’t over. Gentrification and speculative development continue to limit the availability of city-owned vacant land, and all too often what’s considered the “best use” of city-owned land comes down to money.
The Washtenaw Black Farmer Fund seeks to support Black growers with the capital they need to become land secure by reaching out to our community to support this effort in a show of cooperative economics and responsibility. Today, there are 2,134 farmers who work and live within Washtenaw County. Of these 2,134 farmers, eighteen identify as Black.
This disparity was not created by mistake.
Black farmers in Washtenaw County face immeasurable barriers to land acquisition, autonomy, and ownership. This comes to light as we witness black growers who are unable to purchase the property they grow on. This is land where black farmers and gardeners grow produce to serve neighbors, families, and the community as a whole. Oftentimes, the funding to buy the land is the only barrier. This has to change.
Historically, there has been funding allocated for the farming community in the form of grants or loans to purchase land, recuperate from losses, or receive the technical assistance needed to expand their operations. In Washtenaw County, these funds have not been offered or awarded to black farmers. Inequitable systems in Washtenaw County have predetermined the incredibly low rate of success for Black farmers.
Too many Black farmers share stories of USDA officials spitting on them, throwing their loan applications in the trash, and illegally denying them loans. In 2020 $26 billion was allocated for farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Of this, farmers of color only receive 0.1% of this funding. The Land Justice for Black Farmers Act was introduced by Senator Cory Booker later that year. This act acknowledges and aims 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.
While this is a good first step for our country, we need to take steps locally to achieve a just and equitable county. Everything we know changed in 2020 and the weight of food and land insecurity continue to loom heavily. Our way forward is through collaborative forward-thinking action and mutual aid.
We are committed to the right relationship with the land, the transformation of our communities through food sovereignty, and the revitalization of Washtenaw’s agricultural landscape. We honorably steward this fund to support Black Farmers in land acquisition and farm support.
We are not asking you to pick up a weapon and fight, we are asking you to be the weapon, to join us in creating systems that aren't extractive and exploitative, but holistic and nurturing. To support Black farmers and to protect our land. We've got so much work to do, but together we move with the love and reverence of Freedom Fighters who have come before, who fight unjust wars in neighboring lands, and with our brothers and sisters who have been stripped of their human rights in the prison industrial complex. The work continues here and now.
Providing critical support for Black Farmers
The WCBFF will be used to support Black Farmers in Washtenaw and surrounding counties overcome barriers to land and financial security.
Who is eligible?
Current or aspiring Black Farmers living or farming in Washtenaw, Jackson, Ingham, Livingston, Oakland, Wayne, Monroe, and Lenawee counties of Michigan. Our focus is on supporting farmers who produce nutritious food and supply the Washtenaw County foodshed.
How will funds be used?
The WCBFF will facilitate land ownership, reducing debt, and enhancing farm operations. In addition, we fund equipment purchases, operating support, and technical assistance.
How will funds be distributed?
Black Farmers will be considered for the fund using an application process. A dedicated committee of collaborators will oversee the application process to ensure the funds are allocated to Black Farmers that will benefit the most from these funds.
When will funds be distributed?
We plan to distribute all funds to Black Farmers by Spring 2022.
MEET THE COALITION
KEESA V. JOHNSON
Keesa is a human systems-designer, scholar-activist, and educator who actively engages in the redesign of equitable and just food futures in the state of Michigan.
Mr. farmer T.C.
Willow Run Acres
Farmer T.C. believes in protecting and preserving farming knowledge. He works to plant a love for growing food in the hearts of younger generations.
We The People Opportunity Farm
As someone who found a sense of peace and purpose from connecting to soil and growing food, Melvin is committed to see others who have been marginalized and historically excluded have the same opportunity.
Program Director, Growing Hope
Julius is an avid runner, husband and father is proud to call Ypsilanti home; he regularly dreams of the community our city is and is becoming.
Investor Relations, Fair Food Network
Lolita helps to lead the impact investing initiative at Fair Food Network. Connecting people, partners, and platforms to catalyze change in the local and regional food system. As a resident of Ypsilanti, Lolita is passionate about creating change in the community she is proud to call home.
Executive Director, Growing Hope
As Executive Director of Growing Hope, Cynthia is committed to supporting farmers of color who historically have been excluded from participation in a just and equitable food system.
Owner, Argus Farm Stop
We believe that our farming system should reflect everyone in our population, and that we must work hard to help rebuild the Black farming infrastructure.