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Black farming incubator wants to bring equity to industry in NC

Rod Bradshaw, pictured in January 2021, says he's the last Black farmer in Hodgeman County, Kan. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talked with NPR about debt relief coming for Black farmers.
Rod Bradshaw, pictured in January 2021, says he's the last Black farmer in Hodgeman County, Kan. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talked with NPR about debt relief coming for Black farmers.

A Black farming incubator in Edgecombe County wants to help other aspiring Black farmers learn about agriculture.

The goal of the incubator is to bring racial equity to eastern North Carolina through hands-on experiences, produce boxes and farming workshops.

Kendrick Ransome is a Black farmer with Golden Organic Farms that is responsible for the incubator. Ransome said equity is important in the agriculture industry, especially for Black farmers.

“When we talk about equity, we're talking about building our farms up first,” he said. “I have a 100-year family farm and you look at my infrastructure compared to another white farmer who's always been farming for 100 years, the infrastructure pieces are totally different. We're talking about focusing on us what we can do to help improve our situations.”

A recent report from Modern Farmer magazine showed that over the last century, Black farmers have lost 90 percent of their land.

Roughly, 98% of all farmland in the U.S. belongs to white landowners according to a 2020 report from the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Ransome said Black people who get into agriculture cannot only help reverse those statistics, but it will also help to heal the Black community.

"The mental health aspect of just having your hands in soil, it is eliminating depression, eliminating a lot of anxiety, a lot of anger,” he said. “Connecting with our souls you know through nature and understanding our bodies is another way that we can all heal."

Ransome says the incubator will have workshops, equipment sharing programs and hands on experiences and opportunities for aspiring Black farmers.

He hopes to have it up and running by the spring.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Naomi Prioleau joined WUNC in January 2017 as their Greensboro Bureau reporter.