The agricultural landscape in the United States has long displayed a stark underrepresentation of Black farmers. However, a Georgia nonprofit is changing this narrative by spearheading initiatives to support diverse farmers through its impactful grant program.
According to 11Alive, The Common Market Southeast has awarded millions in state funds to Local Lands, a Black-owned and small family-operated pasture, to empower underserved communities and farmers.
EliYahu Ben Asa, Local Lands member and head farmer at Atlanta Harvest, an extension of the family’s farm, discussed the initiative and how it benefits Black farmers.
“As farmers, not just farmers, but Black farmers, we’re pillars of the community and people really look up to us and the way that we function,” he told 11Alive.
The nonprofit’s program aims to help local farms provide food to essential institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities and large-scale government contracts.
“This past year has been very, very good for us,” Asa Ysrael, head farmer at Local Lands, said, per 11Alive. “The LFPA (Local Food Purchase Assistance) program has allowed us to scale up. It gives us security, so we don’t have to worry about if the product gets sold. We can focus on other variables that aren’t controllable. I’m happy about that.”
The grant has led to Local Lands being able to produce pasture-raised eggs on a much larger scale. Economically, it has allowed the Black-owned farm to decrease the price of eggs, making the eggs more accessible to a broader market.
Additionally, the farmers affirmed that the funds have helped mitigate food disparity by providing residents with access to organic and local foods.
“With that kind of target focus, we’re trying to help out the southern side of metro Atlanta, especially because access to organic, local fresh food is at a very minimum, like we said, that we’re in one of the food deserts,” Asa said.