Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) is pleased to have received more than 200 grant applications for its second round of grants from its Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund. The program provides grants of up to $10,000 to farmers for projects that increase farm viability, support farmers’ local food economies, and preserve traditional farming practices.
RAFI-USA launched the Farmers of Color Network in 2017 to assist farmers in accessing farm infrastructure resources, securing land and other assets, supporting farmer-to-farmer learning, and providing technical support. In 2021, 229 applications were received, nearly triple the applications received in 2020. “It’s exciting to see this kind of expansion,” said Tahz Walker, Senior Program Manager of the Network. “We expanded our geographic outreach area to include more states in the Southeast U.S. plus we have certainly seen an increased demand for local food during the pandemic,” Tahz added. This increased demand has facilitated the need for farmers to improve or add infrastructure in order to scale up and meet production needs.
Through the Farmers of Color Network, RAFI-USA has been able to provide critical funding to underrepresented farmers. Broad outreach to geographic areas identified as priorities was achieved, tallying grant applications from 21 states and territories, up from five last year. Some states represented in the applications include North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the applicants, 79% are Black, 6% Indigenous, 7% Latinx, 5% Multiracial, and 1% Asian. Over one-third are women.
Grant applications are currently being reviewed and awardees will be announced in late March.
This project is funded in part by a three-year grant of $675,000 to support the Farmers of Color Network from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as funding from The Fund to Build Grassroots Power at Windward Fund, the Seeds, Soul and Culture Fund/New Field Foundation, and a grant from an anonymous donor-advised fund at The Chicago Community Foundation