For farmers and CSA owners of color, there are clear links between sustenance, land ownership, and liberation.
Food producers are a vital but often overlooked part of a community. They employ, train, and empower people while producing and increasing access to culturally relevant food.
Farms are direct producers of food and may sell their goods in local stores or farmers’ markets. They may also participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), community-supported agriculture (CSA) comprises individuals with missions to maintain farmland available to growers and consumers within their community.
CSAs allow community members to market and sell their produce directly to locals without needing a go-between.
CSAs are typically available throughout the year, with local farmers being able to sell different produce each season and often work through delivery services, though some allow you to pick up your weekly or monthly bundle at a farm or local distribution center.
They affect the food justice movement by creating a community-based approach to addressing food disparities across low-income and marginalized communities.
What is food insecurity?
Being food insecure due to the inability to obtain healthy foods in your community increases the likelihood of developing a chronic disease.
Accessibility and food deserts
According to a 2019 study, living in a food desert can lead to chronic health conditions like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Food swamps—over-saturated areas with businesses that
This further contributes to the lack of adequate nutrition for marginalized communities.
A 2021 USDA report on household food security revealed the following statistics:
- 6.2 percent of households had children who were food insecure.
- Around 56 percent of food-insecure households reported participating in federal nutrition programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch Program within the previous month.
- Black non-Hispanic households had the highest rate of low food security at 11.9 percent.
- The southern region of the United States had the highest rate of low food security at 4.3 percent.
Having CSAs in low-income and marginalized communities can contribute to eliminating food deserts and food swamps by helping their communities lead healthier lives with improved access to nutritious foods.
Throughout the U.S., farms and CSAs that are BIPOC-owned are doing critical community work, like introducing children to gardening to equipping formerly incarcerated people with the skills to grow food and transform it into livelihood and sustainability.
Here are 13 BIPOC-Owned CSAs that are making a difference in their communities.
Dreaming Out Loud (@DOLDC)
Dreaming Out Loud (DOL) was founded in 2008 by Christopher Bradshaw to create economic sustainability for marginalized communities within Washington D.C.’s metro areas.
DOL is leading an initiative to redesign community-based food systems by increasing access to healthy foods, supporting small business owners, and educating at-risk residents about earning sustainable income for their families.
“We believe that all communities deserve equal access to fresh, healthy food choices, but that achieving this requires moving beyond the ‘access’ paradigm to a focus on community self-determination and food sovereignty,” DOL states on their website.
DOL accepts online orders for food boxes, which you can personalize to choose the foods you want, like fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
In addition to following their IG page, you can also follow them on Facebook.
Black Farmers Collective (@blackfarmerscollective)
Black Farmers Collective, located in the Seattle neighborhood called Yesler, calls attention to food ethics, including farm worker conditions, pay, and the distribution chain.
“Yesler is connected to a historic Black neighborhood and used to be an affordable housing project, maybe for about 50 years,” says Hannah Wilson, volunteer farm manager of the Yes Farm urban farm project, an urban farm and partner of Black Farmers Collective.
“Food deserts are a reality for Black people and people of color. People have to leave their neighborhoods for fresh, organic produce, which is the result of environmental racism, redlining, and unsustainable development,” says Hannah Wilson, volunteer farm manager of the Yes Farm urban farm project, an urban farm and partner of Black Farmers Collective. Wilson says.
Black Farmers Collective focuses on intentional engagement with the community. When starting community gardens, its founders noticed that many Black people couldn’t use them due to barriers like location, transportation, and time.
Wilson emphasizes the need for more farms, noting that funding would help the collective acquire the space and skills needed to run successful projects. You can visit their site or Instagram to learn more about how to support their efforts.
Dream of Wild Health (@dreamofwildhealth)
Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dream of Wild Health (DWH) is a nonprofit indigenous organization founded by now-retired Sally Auger, spreading across 30 acres of farmland.
DWH is part of the Indigenous Food Network MN (IFN), an intertribal, Native-led collaborative helping improve food security within Indigenous communities.
Here’s a review from one of DWH’s members:
“I really enjoyed the wonderful IFS boxes and that they are culturally curated. This year the cost was covered and I’m grateful for having continued access to healthy food while I’m on a budget.”
DWH offers a box each week of the season (16 boxes) that contain enough food to feed a family of four.
Deep Roots Farms (@deeprootsfarms)
Based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Deep Roots Farm was founded in 2012 by Ann Sutton, nicknamed “Farmer Gale.”
Sutton had been farming for nine years before renting land to start her farm. She’s had a lifelong passion for food and wanted to share the benefits of farming with her community.
“I take responsibility as a farmer to make an impact-full contribution to the community I serve. Building a sustainable farm that contributes to the solution where the community wines and is improved,” Sutton says on the CSA’s website.
Deep Roots Farms attends weekly farmers markets within the Washington, D.C., area to sell their produce. They also offer weekly farm tours and hands-on educational programs for children and adults.
From December 8 to March 9, they’re offering $28 boxes, which include foods like:
- a variety of greens (arugula, pea shoots, kale, and lettuce)
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
- Japanese radish
Swanson Family Farm (@swansonfamilyfarm)
Wayne Swanson, also known as Farmer Wayne, runs Swanson Family Farm in Hampton, Georgia. Along with his wife and son, Swanson raises cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. The Swansons also run a buyers club that connects directly with consumers.
“I was always outdoorsy,” Swanson says. “I love the woods, and I spent summers with my grandparents on their farm. My farm has been a hobby for 14 years and a business for 5 to 6 years.”
Farmer Wayne has always been determined to run a sustainable farm. He credits his ability to remain strong during the height COVID-19 pandemic to his farm having better conditions than the big businesses where workers are in small spaces and more susceptible to contracting the virus.
As those businesses shut down, people turned to local farmers.
Swanson Family Farm’s best seller is ground beef. Along with livestock, they also raise bees for honey. The success of this small business is in its simplicity and attention to the natural ecosystem.
“Really, we’re grass farmers, and animals help with that, and the byproduct is honey,” he says. “It’s about the ecosystem, being very sensitive and in tune [with] that.”
Logan’s Gardens (@logansgardens)
Father-son duo Jimmy and Logan Williams own the Silver Lake-based CSA, Logan’s Gardens. Their nursery sells organic vegetables and creates gardens. Logan’s interest in gardening comes from his father’s side of the family.
“On a deeper level, my father’s side of the family is of Gullah heritage, and gardening/farming has been a part of our heritage since well before slavery,” Logan told LA Times Plants.
Logan’s Gardens has been interviewed on platforms like LA Times and Daily News and boasts a following of over 12,000 on their Instagram page.
You can follow Logan’s Gardens on Facebook and find them at Santa Monica Farmer’s markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the Hollywood Farmer’s market on Sundays.
Farms to Grow, Inc. (@farmstogrow)
Promote, document, and improve: These are the goals of Farms to Grow, Inc., a farm in Oakland, California, that was co-founded by Dr. Gail P. Myers and Gordon Reed in 2004.
Its focus is on preserving the local environment while helping Black and underserved farmers create and maintain their farms to grow food for their communities.
Projects include the Freedom Farmers Market, hands-on in-school programs, after-school cooking classes, and connecting people to farmers within their communities. Its CSA program also encourages farmers to donate 10 percent of crops for meals for unhoused people.
Soul Fire Farm (@soulfirefarm)
The driving force of Soul Fire Farm—a Black-owned farm in Petersburg, New York—is to uproot racism in the food system through justice, ecology, and healing.
They see the environmental impact of unsustainable practices that disproportionately affect Black people and the potential for reconnecting with the land to heal communities.
You can support Soul Fire by purchasing their product options when they return to take orders on March 8, 2023.
Tall Grass Food Box (@tallgrassfoodbox)
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Tall Grass Food Box was founded as a platform for Black farmers to market their produce to the community.
“In this time where small businesses have become even more vulnerable, it is important that we double down in our support of Black farmers. In this vein, we seek to build a capacity for self-determination within our food systems, the CSA’s homepage states.
Each week, the Tall Grass Food Box team creates boxes filled with produce from Black farmers across the North Carolina area. Every package contains enough food to feed at least 1-2 people three or more times a week.
They are no longer selling their fall box, and a winter box hasn’t been announced yet. When Tall Grass Food Box is open for orders, you can order a box online and pick it up from Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, or Apex.
Mother’s Finest Family Farm (@mothersfinesturbanfarm)
Samantha Foxx owns 2.5 acres in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is leasing more land to expand the production of Mother’s Finest Family Farm. She started the farm after deciding to be what she never saw as a child: a Black farmer wearing lipstick.
Foxx’s farm includes bees, mushrooms, and worms, and there are different kinds of honey, tonics, and shea butters available for purchase in the farm catalog.
Through her work, Foxx is reclaiming the land and encouraging other Black people to renew connections to the earth, transforming the narrative from one of slavery to one of community building.
Three Part Harmony Farm (@3PHFarm)
The Three Part Harmony Farm lies across two acres of land in Northeast Washington, D.C.
Since 2012, this farm, headed by Gail Taylor, has helped to strengthen the relationships between farmers and community members while addressing food injustices.
According to their website, Three Part Harmony Farm exists to grow food for people, but it also exists in part to challenge our assumptions on how urban farms should look.
Taylor, a social justice activist and member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective, has been growing organic foods since 2005 and developed Three Part Harmony Farm from a project based on a “community-led visioning process” in 2011.
Three Part Harmony Farms offers seasonal shares or boxes (spring, summer, and fall) to members and farmers who wish to sell their produce. Foods included in the boxes are grown with sustainable practices free of pesticides or herbicides.
Gangstas to Growers
In Atlanta, Georgia, community organizer Abiodun Henderson has been running an agribusiness training program for at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth called Gangstas to Growers.
In a 3-month program, trainees participate in yoga classes, attend seminars, and work on a cooperative farm. The program integrates life skills with sessions ranging from financial literacy to cooking.
Participants earn wages and gain skills in production and business management. They not only grow and harvest peppers themselves but transform them into a retail products. Sweet Sol hot sauce, named by program participants in a marketing class, is sold to help the project become self-sufficient.
Upon completion of the program, participants find job opportunities in the food business with Henderson’s assistance. The goal is to reach and assist 500 young people by 2025, giving them an alternative to the limited prospects often facing Black youth.
Indigenous Farm Hub (@indigenousfarmhub)
Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Indigenous Farm Hub creates a mutually beneficial relationship between Indigenous farmers and community members to develop sustainable food systems and improve food security.
Here is the CSA’s vision statement:
“We create healthy and sustainable Indigenous food systems where community members, families, and farmers bond together to create a network of Indigenous farms that establish healthy food systems by strengthening access to nutritious, locally grown foods, reclaiming land, building prosperity, and revitalizing language and culture.”
Their 2022 season ran from May to October, offering food boxes (or shares) that cost between $550-$600 for 6-8 produce items each week.
Stay tuned for info about the upcoming season by connecting with them on IG or Facebook.
Low-income and minority communities can face food disparities like living in a food desert or food swamp, which can lessen their access to healthier alternatives, like fresh produce.
A CSA can address food disparities in marginalized communities by increasing access to healthy foods, offering hands-on gardening training, and providing employment opportunities to community members.
Supporting Black, Indigenous, or POC-owned farms and CSAs shifts power and attends to the needs of their communities, one veggie at a time.
You can do so by subscribing to their product boxes, encouraging your favorite restaurants to source food from them, and donating to their programs.
If you’re in any of the areas above and want to learn more, feel free to reach out to these folks directly!
If you’re a little far away, don’t worry—these are just a few BIPOC-owned CSAs available throughout the U.S.
Alicia A. Wallace is a queer Black feminist, women’s human rights defender, and writer. She is passionate about social justice and community building. She enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, traveling, and talking to everyone and no one at the same time on Twitter.
Taneia Surles (she/her) is a freelance health, wellness, and productivity writer, and is the owner of Content By Taneia LLC. She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2020, she was initiated into the UAP Delta Omega Upsilon, a prestigious public health society. She has published content in Giddy, Inflow, and aSweatLife.