Survival Gardening

The Young Black Farmers Defying A Legacy of Discrimination

Kendrick Ransome started out farming a few years ago with just a hoe, a rake, and a shovel.

He could have used support getting his hog and vegetable business off the ground, but he was wary of asking institutions for help. “My big brother told me, ‘Stay away from loans,’” said Ransome. In 1925, most farmers in his rural hometown of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, were black. But now, the 26-year-old is an anomaly.

“When they did take out loans and they were unable to pay them back, you lose everything you got — that’s including your farm and your land for your family.”

Ransome’s fear of institutions is based in the centuries of discrimination black farmers have faced across the country. But despite that history, he and other young black Americans are reclaiming the trade.

The forces pushing black farmers off their land in the 20th century were manifold, and the impact was devastating. In 1920, there were more than 925,000 black farmers; by 2017, there were fewer than 46,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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