$370,000 Distributed throughout Southeast and Mid-Atlantic
(Black PR Wire) Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) today announced 50 recipients of its Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund grants. The program, now in its second year, provides grants of up to $10,000 for farm infrastructure, processing and refrigeration, or collaborative projects with multiple farmers. In 2021, RAFI-USA awarded $369,200 to 50 grantees across 10 states, a significant expansion, awarding nearly double the number of grants over 2020 and widening the geographic scope of grantees to more states in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
This project is supported in part by a three-year grant of $675,000 for the Farmers of Color Network from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as funding from the Seeds, Soul and Culture Fund/New Field Foundation and a grant from an anonymous donor-advised fund at The Chicago Community Foundation.
RAFI-USA Executive Director Edna Rodriguez said, “We are pleased that we were able to expand the grants across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic in 2021, thanks to an incredibly generous and growing group of funders. Farmers of color make up just 4% of all farmers in the US; the Farmers of Color Network seeks to grow that number by investing in the creativity and innovation of traditionally underserved farmer communities.”
The Infrastructure Fund provides support to farmers for new and innovative agricultural projects that will increase farm viability, support community food sovereignty efforts, preserve traditional and cultural farming practices, as well as assist local food economies. Of the grantees this year, 72% are Black, 14% Indigenous, 6% Latinx, 2% Asian, and 2% multi-racial. Twenty-five grants were awarded to women-led farms.
In Mississippi, the Indian Springs Farmers Association is updating its refrigeration and transportation systems to make sales more efficient for its 45 member farmers in six Mississippi counties. “Adequate refrigeration will allow us to reduce humidity, extend shelf life, and maintain fresh produce quality allowing us access to more markets, while expanding fresh, local produce accessibility to all communities,” said Association member Ben Burkett.
Gabrielle Woodward Carter in North Carolina is converting her farm’s growing methods to more sustainable and soil-regenerative practices. “At the heart of this work, we plan to lessen some of the more harmful practices on our farm,” Gabrielle explains. She is testing soil and water, hauling in compost, and learning about regenerative practices to put into use on her farm.
Other farm projects supported include expanding poultry and livestock operations, constructing walk-in coolers for storage and processing, building solar-powered fencing for livestock grazing fields, and creating mobile produce markets. See grantee profiles on the RAFI-USA website and learn more about the Farmers of Color Network.
RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community. RAFI-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990.