Support Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley of New York State

Western New York and Southern Tier Black farmers are looking for your support!

According to the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census there are only 139 Black farmers in NYS, compared to 57,000 white farmers statewide, and Black farmers make just $1 for every $5 a white farmer makes.

“Farming is big business in New York State — a $42 billion industry on which every other sector relies. Yet black farmers’ contributions in New York are often undercounted, overlooked, and undervalued, to the detriment of the health and prosperity of black communities statewide.”

– from Black Farmers United NYS

For these reasons and more, Food for the Spirit has been supporting Black farmers in New York State since 2019 through education, outreach, advocacy, and support for the development of networks and cooperative systems.

In 2021, we established the Genesee Valley Black Farmers Collective Marketing Project, a collective marketing project to serve Black farmers in the nine counties in the Genesee Valley of New York State. We engaged local farmers in the project and enlisted marketing and design support from Buffalo-based artist and food entrepreneur Alexa Joan Wajed of Eat Off Art.

Linked below are the Farmers Portraits created by Eat Off Art. Visit them to get to know each of the farmers and learn how you can support them:

Alison Espinosa of Rootworkers Croft

  • Allison is seeking venues (both virtual and in-person) with public school students and families in Rochester to share her expertise about farming and animal husbandry, as well as clients for farming, gardening, livestock husbandry, and herbalism.
  • Check out Alison’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_AlisonEspinosa
  • Alison can be reached by email at rootworkerscroft (@) gmail.com.

Wil Moss, Jr. of Moss Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

  • Wil is seeking support with transportation and distribution to get their farm products to additional markets, and looking for support with equipment and labor to plant, cultivate, harvest, and take product to market.
  • Check out Wil’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_MossFarm.
  • Email Wil Moss, Jr. at wemossjr (@) hotmail.com.

Pamela ReeseSmith of Harlem Brood Teas

  • Pamela is looking for venues (both virtual and in-person) to teach and educate underserved communities urban farming, growing herbs and vegetables, as well as clients who wish to consult with her around her expertise.
  • Check out Pamela’s Farmer Portrait at: bit.ly/GVBlackFarmer_PamelaReeseSmith.
  • You can reach Pamela on her business phone at: (585) 404-3885.

Through our collective efforts, we envision farmers of color coming together to learn from each other, share resources, and offer each other support in mutually-beneficial forums. We hope you will support us in bringing about this vision.

You can support our efforts through a donation or grant made to Food for the Spirit. To support the Genesee Valley Black Farmers Project and related efforts, contact Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

More ways to engage:

Learn about Eat Off Art at www.eatoffart.com.

This project was made possible through a grant from the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Portraits of Black Farmers

On March 23rd, 2022, Food for the Spirit hosted a virtual event Portraits of Black Farmers; Creating Space & Encouraging Support for Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley.

CLICK HERE to get to know the participating farmers.

Watch our event video below to learn about Food for the Spirit’s Genesee Valley Black Farmers Marketing Project and meet the participating farmers from the western Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The Genesee Valley Black Farmers Marketing Project was carried out in collaboration with Eat Off Art, and was made possible with the support of the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the New York State Department of Ag & Markets.

Soil Builders | Intercambio de Historias // Story-Sharing Event

This event was interpreted simultaneously from English to Spanish / Este evento fue interpretado simultáneamente del inglés al español.

The event was hosted virtually on Zoom on February 24th, 2022, from 6-7:30pm // El evento se celebró virtualmente en Zoom el 24 de febrero de 2022, de 6-7:30pm.

Are you a BIPOC grower or farmer? // ¿Eres cultivadore o agricultore negre, indigena o de raza marginada?

Do you have a story to tell about your growing experience? // ¿Tienes una historia que contar sobre tu experiencia de cultivo?

Soil Builders was a virtual evening of story sharing about your experiences as land-stewards, growers, gardeners, and farmers. // Soil Builders fue una noche virtual para compartir historias sobre tu experiencia como guardián de la tierra, cultivadore, jardinere y agricultore.

This event included time to:

  1. Workshop and share a personal story in a majority BIPOC space;
  2. Gain skills to help craft stories that can be used in legislative testimony; and
  3. Learn how personal narrative can shape the future of NY State and Federal policy.

Este evento incluyó tiempo para:

  1. Desarrollar y compartir una historia personal en un espacio donde la mayoría de personas son gente negra, indigena y de raza marginada;
  2. Aprender habilidades para ayudar a elaborar historias que puedan ser utilizadas en el testimonio legislativo; y
  3. Aprender cómo la narrativa personal puede dar forma al futuro de la política estatal de Nueva York y al nivel federal.

For more information or to learn more about Soil Builders, email Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org // Para más información o para saber más sobre Soil Builders, envíe un correo electrónico Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

The event was hosted by a collective of individuals working in the agricultural field in New York State who are committed to supporting Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) farmers seeking access to institutional markets through the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) // El evento fue organizado por un colectivo de personas que trabajan en el campo de la agricultura en el Estado de Nueva York y que están comprometidos con el apoyo a los agricultores negros, indígenas y personas de color (BIPOC) que buscan acceso a los mercados institucionales a través del Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).

Learn about the collective who hosted the event at: https://bit.ly/NYSBIPOCFarmerSupport_AboutUs

Conozca el colectivo que acogió el evento en: https://bit.ly/NYSBIPOCFarmerSupport_Nosotres

Freedom Gardens Thank You

An open letter to the Buffalo BIPOC community,

All around the country community responses to the COVID-19 virus have been varied, most have been uplifting and inspiring and a few divisive and disturbing.  The virus has manifested in Buffalo like it has in other places, spreading in Black populations disproportionally thereby resulting in more cases and deaths. It has exposed and exploited the systematic conditions that arise when poverty and race are neglected and ignored. Our response to this crisis has been to target the underlaying causes that perpetuate the health disparities in our communities…the lack of healthy fresh nutritious food. Our health will improve when we have neighborhoods that prioritize health and wellbeing.   

This letter is a thank you to everyone who contributed to our marketing success and provided funding for Freedom Gardens.  For over a century Buffalo has been the epicenter of Black freedom movements created in response to challenging moments in history. An expansive coalition of community-based organizations announced the Buffalo Freedom Garden initiative to bring organic gardens that inspire resilience, independence and community building to residents in the zip code areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus. Our print campaign was launched last week with an ad and article in The Challenger News. The message that Freedom Gardens was our response to the COVID crisis was carried by influencers on social media, radio programs on POWER 96.5, and undergirded by a direct marketing campaign fueled by the power and influence of community-based organizations! Once the community began to take notice in less than five days over 334 households applied for 50 gardens!  I would like to thank all the families and individuals that filled out an application. Your outpouring of support is being used to expand the number of gardens we can establish in an attempt to meet the increased demand.   

Black owned media outlets, Citigroup, WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Juneteenth Festival Agricultural Pavilion Committee, Food for the Spirit, Grassroots Gardens, Access To A-Free-Ka and others played a critical role in organizing, promoting, funding and providing leadership for this initiative.  Please join me in acknowledging our sponsors and supporters. Our best moments come when we unite as a community to do the work of the people! Together we rise! 

Sincerely,

Gail V Wells & Rebekah Williams

Freedom Gardens