Farmer Support Organizations partner to support farmer infrastructure needs
[Durham, NC, 10/28/20] – Southeastern African American Organic Network (SAAFON) and the Rural Advancement Foundation International’s (RAFI-USA) Farmers of Color Network (FOCN) are working together this fall to facilitate farmer brigades/workdays to support infrastructure needs on BIPOC farms in North Carolina. Based on the needs of the farms, this work includes building or repairing fencing, supporting water management solutions, repairing farm infrastructure, and building new infrastructure.
RAFI-USA Executive Director Edna Rodriguez said, “North Carolina farmers have been hit hard by impacts of the pandemic, losing markets and long-time customers as businesses shut down in March. For many farmers, the sudden loss of income meant choosing between buying groceries or paying the electric bill. RAFI-USA is proud to help farmers stay afloat in these hard times so that they can continue to feed our communities when we emerge from this crisis.”
For the first round of brigades, SAAFON and RAFI-USA are working with farmers in the Piedmont, South Eastern, and North Eastern regions of NC. In the past, farmer brigades have been larger and serve as an entry point to broader engagement within our networks, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, the brigades typically will include six to eight participants, with social distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have heard from BIPOC farmers about the increased demand for production on their farms, and the need to pivot to selling to more direct-to-consumer markets. With this increased demand for production, an already present need for infrastructure to meet production goals is exacerbated. Increased demand also means increased labor needs and necessitates online sales systems to adhere to social distance constraints, supplies to package customer purchases, and other market pivots. SAAFON and the FOCN have come together to meet some of the farm infrastructure needs through these farmer-directed work brigades.
About SAAFON (Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network)
SAAFON is a network of Black farmers in the Southeastern United States who are acting collectively for the empowerment and healing of people and the land through ecologically sustainable agricultural, food, and land-based strategies. SAAFon is funded by the CS Fund and the AgroEcology Fund.
About Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and its Farmers of Color Network
The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA’s mission is to cultivate markets, policies, and communities that sustain thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms. RAFI-USA believes that environmental sustainability, economic viability, biodiversity, and social justice are inextricably linked. RAFI-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990. RAFI-USA established the Farmers of Color Network in 2017 to support BIPOC farmers and help grow their numbers. The Network provides farmer-led technical assistance and funding opportunities, and hosts farm tours, networking events, and gatherings to highlight ancestral traditions and knowledge, as well as explore market solutions. The Farmers of Color Network is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as The Fund to Build Grassroots Power at Windward Fund, the 11th Hour Project, and the Seeds, Soul and Culture Fund/New Field Foundation.