Farmers of color in the U.S. have long been disadvantaged by systemic and institutional racism, including discrimination in accessing credit, loans, resources, and markets. In response, RAFI-USA launched the Farmers of Color Network project in 2017 to develop a holistic economic and cultural ecosystem that values farmers of color in regional food systems. The project provides farmer-led technical assistance and funding for farmers of color, and hosts farm tours, networking events, and gatherings to highlight ancestral traditions and knowledge, as well as explore market solutions.
Network Impact in 2018
- 12 out of 26 (50%) of Agricultural Reinvestment Fund grants in 2018 were awarded to farmers of color
- $100,160.93 was invested in farms led by farmers of color in 2018
- Types of farms/operations include: fruit, horticulture, medicinal, hydroponics, marketing, livestock, poultry, grains/oilseed, education, and other value-added products
- Farmers in the network represent 9 counties: Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rowan, Wake, and Warren
Farmers & Buyers Connect Event
November 6, 2019, 6-8pm
Zweli’s Piri Piri Kitchen, Durham, NC
An evening designed to foster market engagement with farmers of color.
2019 Farm Tour
Farmers of Color Winter Gathering
2018 Farm Tour
September 28th, 9am-5pm
Industrial Hemp Gathering
August 21, 2018 in Oxford, NC
More than 35 black farmers/land owners attended an Industrial Hemp Gathering in Oxford, NC in August 2018 to learn about hemp production and markets, rules and regulation and steps in forming hemp cooperatives
“It was great to be in a room full of farmers of color and to have an event that focused on connecting local farmers of color with local buyers. The Triangle has so much more potential to support all local farms than what is currently being actualized.” – Carolyn Twesten, Merchandiser for Weaver Street Market
“The Farmers & Buyers Connect event provided both produce buyers and local farmers of color with a unique opportunity to connect and build relationships. There aren’t often spaces where both groups have the time to interact on such an intimate level. I was able to make connections with farmers that weren’t in my network prior to the event.” – Alex Borst, Happy Dirt (formerly Eastern Carolina Organics)
“The Farmers of Color Network Farmers & Buyers Connect was a great event. I was able to connect with three businesses that are interested in selling my produce. I also learned more marketing skills and how to promote my farm in a more efficient way. The atmosphere was very professional and the food was delicious.” – Carolyn Cheek, JAC Farm, Warren County, NC
“This meeting set the table for a more communal food system change, bringing together the hands of all participants in our local food system. I’m eager to continue the conversations to develop a stronger future for food whose roots are a rich diversity of growers.” – Lauren Horning, Local and Organic Specialist, FreshPoint
“This function was a huge success. It was able to bring together two of the busiest sectors of the food system and make connecting possible. A lot of connections were made. Personally, we were able to connect with retailers and wholesales who continued the conversation after the meeting. Those conversations have to relationships and commitments for future purchases/sales. Thanks to the RAFI-USA team for making this event a success. I hope this becomes an annual event as a way of maintaining these connections and building new bridges for the future.” – Howard Allen, Faithfull Farms
“What this event impressed upon me is not a need to just recruit or create opportunities for black people in food production and food-related businesses, but to shed light on the hands, bodies, and minds who have been living this work and connecting all of these people so we are able to find the struggles that persist in inhibiting the forward progression and growth of black farmers. We know the wealth of history that black bodies have contributed to agriculture and food production in our Nation, but what we don’t know or don’t have regular access to is the knowledge and resources of what it takes to connect desperate people today. Together gathered at Zweli’s Kitchen dozens of black people spoke up about their needs and challenges as farmers, entrepreneurs, and business owners who have obviously met many walls and dead ends in their pursuit to accessing resources. I was happy to be representing a step on the chain seated with our newly hired Meat Department Manager, a black woman herself, as we looked at the faces of the black farming community. It felt like the personification of the old saying ‘you can’t know where you are going, if you don’t know where you have been.” – Raafe-Ahmaad Purnsley, Community Outreach Coordinator, Durham Coop Market
“The Farmers of Color networking event is a huge step in the right direction.” – Tom and Linda Savage, Allied Organic Farms in Hurdle Mills, NC
“As a black food entrepreneur, it is valuable to me to know where my food comes from. Getting in touch with local farmers, especially those of color, has become an important part of my operating process. I would not have been able to make these connections without RAFI-USA, and I will be eternally grateful.” – Aric Shelton, Owner of Clirty Eats
“It was great to see so many farmers of color in one space, helpful to put faces of farmers to names, get to know them better and build relationships, and hopefully be able to get product from them in the future.” – Georie Bryant, Symbodied
Interested in joining the Network?
The @rafiusa Farmers of Color Network aims to develop a network of support & address threats to economic & cultural survival for farmers of color.
The Farmers of Color Network is currently supported by a grant as part of the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (“BFDL”) Cy Pres Grants Process.