Gardening isn’t just about retreating to your own place of calm surrounded by flowers, birds and butterflies. For some, gardening is revolutionary; a radical act that challenges the status quo. In the United States, less than 2% of farms in America is black-owned. The promises made by government after the American Civil War for land to be freely given for settlement and development in the American West – known as the Homestead Act of 1862 – totally excluded the African-American community.
In 1910, about 14% of American farmers were black. Over the 1910 – 2007 period, the Black community lost 80% of their land and by 2012, it was estimated that just 1.58% of farms were black-owned. This decline in farm ownership was the result of discriminatory practices by the United States Department of Agriculture; Black farmers did not have equal access to capital, credit and crop insurance; resources they needed for their farms to thrive and expand.
Aside from that, there had been a long history of violence, oppression, exploitation and injustice were suffered by the BIPOC communities. Furthermore, the agricultural system is planted on stolen land. The world of gardening and agriculture, particularly in the United States, is dirty and deeply rooted in racism.
Emboldened by the Black Lives Matter movement, however, more people from BIPOC communities are rising up; ready to reclaim their land, their identity, their rights and sharing how they live in harmony with nature by growing food and flowers and cultivating better relationships with the land.
Whether through the simple act of balcony gardening or joining community gardens, many are sharing how they nurture, care and tend to the soil while discussing environmental justice and other global concerns such as climate change, food insecurity, the environment and health.
So we’ve curated a list of BIPOC gardeners and farmers to inspire your love of gardening and help you better flex that green thumb. This list is not meant to exclude white farmers or gardeners but instead, we want to make more visible the BIPOC gardeners and farmers who empower their neighbours, networks and communities (many of whom have very little access to land, farming and gardening know-how). Here they are in no particular order:
Community herbalist, Amanda David’s mission is to reconnect plants, people and the planet. Her focus with Root Work Herbals is in helping BIPOC communities reclaim their relationship with plant medicine as a way to promote personal and planetary health.
Infusing herbalism in her daily life, Amanda grows all kinds of herbal medicinal plants and harvests some of it in the wild. Her herbal product line is available at a BIPOC free clinic called Bramble and Amanda offers herbal education, as well as, other BIPOC-centered classes through her six-month herbal certificate program called The People’s Medicine School.
2. CHALCHI FARM
A member of the Raceme Farms collective (a group of black and brown farmers farming on unceded Wapato territory), Chalchi Farm owned by Xóchitl grows food, herbs, medicine, flowers and also create handmade jewelry that is inspired by nature.
Members come together to promote and support BIPOC farms and BIPOC families with the philosophy that everybody deserves to have a home, land and the freedom to move around. They take pride in the lands they farm and use their day-to-day regenerative agricultural practice as a form of activism; fighting against systemic oppression and other forms of injustice.
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Hola! soy Xo?chitl duen?a y agricultura de Chalchi Farm tambie?n soy miembro de el colectivo Raceme Farmers del cual estoy muy orgullosa. Estamos creciendo comida, hierbas, medicina y flores en el territorio indi?gena Wapato (Sauvies island) La tierra se encarga de recordarnos que tenemos que escuchar y atender a la vida en general en especial aquellos que sufren de abuso de cualquier tipo, espiritual, mental, sexual y fi?sico. Cuando callamos o callamos a otros estamos contribuyendo al problema que nos ha dan?ado por siglos. Te invito a trabajar y pelear en solidaridad por una comunidad libre de miedo, censoria, opresio?n, racismo, sexismo, homofo?bico, machista y abuso. Todos merecemos techo, tierra, libertad y seguridad. Que nuestras vidas sean llenas de cantos y flores en especial la vida de ell@s que han sufrido de ma?s, humanos en general. Con amor y poder Tlazocamati TleXochitl Hello, I’m Xo?chitl, Chalchi Farm owner and farmer and I’m also a proud member of Raceme Farmers collective. We grow food, herbs, medicine and flowers on unceded Wapato territory. The land reminds us that we have to listen and attend to life in general, especially those who suffer from abuse of any kind, spiritual, mental, sexual and physical. When we stay silence or silenced others we are contributing to the problem that has damaged us for centuries. I invite you to work and fight in solidarity for a community free of fear, censorship, oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia and abuse. We all deserve a roof, land, freedom and walk safely. May our lives be full of songs and flowers, especially the lives of those who have suffered the most, humans in general. With love and power. Tlazocamati TleXochitl (pics by Studio XIII)
David of Mabuhay Gardens is a Filipino-American farmer in Oregon who grows and sells different kinds of flowers based on what he is able to grow and harvest using small-scale farming methods.
Breathtaking floral beauties such as zinnias, larkspur, sweet peas, dahlias and a whole lot more line his garden patch where he continuously experiments with the art of flower arrangement and when there is one, you can catch him and his collection of gorgeous vegetations in flower pop-ups.
Smarter By Nature farm owners and certified permaculture designers, Angelique Taylor and David ‘Kip’ Ritchey, started their farm in Zone 8b because of their mutual desire to create sustainable relationships between people and the environment.
They grow fresh food and produce using regenerative agricultural practices and provide quality food at reasonable prices to local communities. You can also catch them on YouTube where they share their permaculture tips, soil preparation tricks and even their mistakes!
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For the past year, we’ve been planting a variety of flowers to expand bio-diversity in our growing space and have observed an increase in beneficial insects as a result on our farm! We grow flowers as a means of integrated pest management to attract pollinators and predators to our system. Some of the flowers we planted include marigolds, Mexican sunflower, salvia, echinacea and yellow lantana. We started marigolds and Mexican sunflower from seed and bought echinacea, stevia and yellow lantana from a local nursery here in North Florida. Fun Flower Facts: ?Marigolds help against some nematodes in the soil, resulting in a better carrot harvest. ?Mexican sunflower can be to feed to soil as a chop and drop or liquid compost tea. ?Echinacea is a drought-tolerant perennial edible medicinal herb. ?Yellow lantana is native to Florida and attracts numerous types of insects. ?Salvia is a plant that produces vibrant purple flowers and its leaves are used to sweeten teas and medicines. What are some of your favorite flowers to grow? Let us know!???? • • • #flowers #growingfood #planting #gardening #farmers #agriculture #growyourfood #growyourown #growyourownfood #insects #botanical #blackfarmers #growing #sustainable #regenerativeagriculture #savethebees #tallahassee #womenwhofarm #womeninbusiness
Terra Madre owners Jessica Sanchez and David Solomon left their corporate jobs 15 years ago to live a simpler, more hands-on approach to life. They had no experience with gardening or farming, but during their five-year apprenticeship La Milpa Organic Farm, they were able to create a mini edible farm and buoyed by this experience, continued to pursue their plant journey with gusto.
They would eventually go on to build their own farm called Terra Madre Gardens, a sacred space where they grow fruits and vegetables and where they honor and pay tribute to Mother Earth each day for providing them with the opportunity to tend, care and live off the land. Through home gardening, self-healing, eating healthily and living happily, Terra Madre Gardens has become a beautiful space that can also be booked for weddings and other private events.
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E Q U I N O X Familia, We have been absent from social media quite a lot and we will continue to do so as we are dedicating fully to the inner realms these days. We are feeding our soil in ways we have been aching to do for many years. We are finally setting sales and production as a last priority because Soil health is first in line. Our focus on our inner community has been pivotal. We are finding good ways of relating, co-existing and co-creating. Our gatherings have become smaller but we continue to be in ceremony and in prayer. As fall arrives as we feel the dark, cold winter around the corner, we prepare to go even deeper. “El hacia el centro, el centro del corazon” May we keep weaving from that center. Ometeotl. . . . . . . Image of our team and our harvest this year. We had the honor of sharing this year with our friends from the Gathering Of Native Americans (GONA) and their 2020 virtual gathering. Image: @yomiroyando
The Harvest Doctor is based in Lucas County, Ohio and was launched on January 1, 2020. Founder Carla Janell Pattin’s started the enterprise to demonstrate to others how easy it is to garden and to grow food. Through her business, she also aims to eliminate barriers to gardening by making it more accessible and inclusive especially for people who have health issues, chronic pain or people in wheelchairs.
“I have grown gardens since 2016, but I began writing about gardening a year earlier,” she shares. “A year before I started gardening, I published an academic article that used gardening metaphors to describe how women of color demonstrate resilience in higher education. Therefore, The Harvest Doctor LLC has been in the making for over five years.”
Carla is currently building virtual courses. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can connect with her on Facebook here.
When you tend to the soil, growing bountiful food from the Earth also means sharing it with the community and teaching people to reconnect to nature and working together as one. That’s exactly what Three Sisters Gardens is all about. A non-profit organization that started with a donated plot and now has a CSA program, Three Sisters Gardens focuses on bringing community members together through the growing of organic food for those living in West Sacramento, California.
Their ultimate goal is to inspire younger generations the empowering act of growing their own food and sharing with the less fortunate. The organisation even had a CSA program so that households can access freshly harvested boxes of organic vegetables prepared every week.
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Pronounced whee-tla-KO-cheh, huitlacoche is also known as corn mushroom, corn smut or Mexican truffle. It is a fungus, which randomly grows on organic corn (not sprayed with any fungicide). It is rare, as it develops on the corn ears as they ripen after the rainy season or an errant rainstorm. Blessings upon blessings. #native #indigenousfarmers #foodsovereignty #westsacurbanfarms #schoolsnotprisons
This brilliantly curated online gardening resource and community features Black girls who create green spaces. Black Girls With Gardens provides visibility, support, inspiration, knowledge-sharing and education for black women. Find their gardening know-how and tips on their website here.
From the same Toronto-based founder who launched Humans Who Grow Food comes Indian Family Garden; an Instagram account that echoes the same principles and features stories of gardeners, farmers and community gardens from different countries.
The page is all about connecting with other like-minded people and seeing to it that caring for the environment and inspiring a return to nature reaches different people from across the world.
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Fresh celery from the garden. I have almost an equal amount still left in the garden. This is my first year of growing celery successfully. The bunch to the left was supposed to be pink celery but it didn’t get much sunlight and the colour is white. What is the best way to preserve celery? Just cut and freeze the stalks? Also, how long I can keep the other plants in the garden? They are fully developed with thick stalks. Will they tolerate cold weather or I need to remove before first frost? Let me know! Thanks in advance!
10. RISE & ROOT FARM
Karen Washington (pictured below) is the co-founder of Rise and Root Farm in New York City. A long-time community activist whose goal is to fight for justice and equity in the local food community, she along with Michaela Hayes, Jane Hodge, and Lorrie Clevenger founded Rise & Root Farm in 2013 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. This women-owned farming enterprise is committed to engaging both rural and urban communities through food and farming. Karen also has her own Instagram account should you wish to connect with her and follow her personal journey.
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Lisianthus flowers are ready for you! Come see them (and us!) at the @unsqgreenmarket tomorrow! We’re located on the west side of the park between 16th and 17th streets from 8am to 5pm on Fridays. See you tomorrow! #flowers #tomatoes #unionsquareny #manhattan #nyc #hudsonvalley #blackfarmers #queerfarmers #womenwhofarm
These are just some of the gardening and farming heroes who are digging deep and removing the rotted roots of racism to clear the path for healthy soil that will allow us all to cultivate new and just systems that will grow an overabundant produce of love and peace.
If you know anyone who deserves to be on this list, feel free to share their details below so we can all check them out!
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Cover image of Carla Janell Pattin aka The Harvest Doctor.