Black Land Loss and Empowering Limited Resource Farmers

By Dorathy and Phillip Barker, Dairy Farmers, Olusanya Farm, Oxford, North Carolina

Dorathy and Phillip Barker of Olusanya Farm in Oxford, NC, operate one of only two Black dairy farms in the state of North Carolina. Like many black farmers, they faced discrimination by banks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a result, they lost all but 20 of the acres they once owned. In the midst of fighting for their own farm, Dorathy and Phillip found “there were no voices in their community” speaking up for limited resource farmers. So they founded Operation Spring Plant, a non-profit organization that advocates and trains limited resource farmers in North Carolina. Operation Spring Plant also includes a food hub that aggregates and markets the produce of area farmers and co-ops, as well as a youth training program that teaches job skills, leadership and an appreciation for our natural resources and hard work. The resilience and ingenuity of Dorathy and Phillip is at once exemplary and representative of the spirit of the many limited resource farmers they seek to empower.

Since 1985, the annual Farm Aid concert has moved around the country, raising awareness about the value of family farmers and showcasing the agriculture of different regions of the U.S. and the unique challenges and opportunities family farmers face there. Farm Aid 2014 took place on September 13 in Raleigh, North Carolina, giving us a chance to take a look at serious issues affecting family farmers across the South and how farmers are growing a better tomorrow.

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published this page in Learn 2014-10-16 09:07:53 -0400