Nicole Anderson Ellis, Alicia Atkins, John Jones
Nicole Anderson Ellis
Cornerstone Community Farm in Eastern Henrico, Virginia is located where farmers are becoming more and more culturally underrepresented. In Virginia today, only 1.3% of farmers are Black, a decrease of 90% since the 1920s. This research aims to connect the narratives of Black womxn farmers to students at Fairfield Middle School who wish to become growers at their school farm. This narrative-based research is used to facilitate conversation between exemplary Black womxn farmers nationwide and a new generation of farmers at Fairfield Middle School. We are currently conducting interviews with eight Black womxn farmers locally and nationwide as a way to gather an understanding of the historical and current challenges and opportunities faced by Black womxn farmers in America. However, this ongoing research hopes to broaden the scope of interviews and create a continuous stream of narrative responses. Responses from each interview will be analyzed under the lens of 1) Promotion of Black womxn farming and 2) Uncovering existing biases in the field. Themes from interview responses will be developed to categorize narratives in an easily digestible format for a middle school audience. Specific actions addressed in the responses will be compiled and detailed. Key themes found within the interviews thus far include resiliency in an era of industrialized agriculture, equity in land access for communities of color), and the pursuance of recognizing the Black womxn’s role in constructing America’s agricultural system. Collectively, our project is a timestamp for the shift occurring in modern agriculture. When educating the next generation of farmers, it is essential to understand the socio-cultural and political attributes of farming for communities of color in order for agriculture to evolve.