30 Days: American Prawn Cooperative

“We are actually creating this industry. We are building this industry. We feel like if we can hold on for this time, when the economy does pick up, we’ll be ready to hit the road running. Amen.”

Seven farming families have discovered a way to provide financial sustainability for themselves while creating jobs for their community by raising something as strange as a crazy claw prawn. These freshwater shrimp are grown without any chemicals and hormones, using water that is being recycled through the process. In Greene County, one of the most economically distressed and hungry counties in North Carolina, the prawn farms offer a boost in the financial and physical health of the community, with innovative agricultural methods that will last.

Gene Jacobs is one of the project members, which also includes his wife, Charlene, and son, Chad. He is also the present chief of the Coharie Native American tribe, headquartered in nearby Sampson County. For him, the prawn cooperative helps reinvigorate a farming tradition inherent in his native community.

“We are preservers of the land,” he says.

The natural-raised prawns include no animal byproducts, a process that Gene says promotes healthy eating within his rural community. He sees the project as an example to encourage and support various local agriculture and community gardening, proving that a diversified crop base is possible on smaller plots of land.

“What we used to call rural was a 40-acre, 50-acre farm. Now what we call rural is a plot of land, three acres or less,” he says. “We’re learning how to grow more on less land. And we grow it better and more healthy for our people. So that whole trend of rural farmers is changing. And it’s something we’re glad to see, when smaller plots help us grow more. It keeps us connected to the land.”

Today, we thank and celebrate the American Prawn Cooperative for the courage to take a chance and improved the economic livelihoods and physical health of your community!

Learn more about the American Prawn Cooperative in this audio story:


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