Ujamaa Farmer Collective, a nonprofit organization in West Sacramento, California, recently secured a $1.25 million grant from the state to help existing and aspiring Black farmers obtain the land needed to expand their businesses.
Black farmers Nelson Hawkins, Nathaniel Brown and Keith Hudson launched the initiative in 2021. According to Black Business, “BIPOC farmers in the United States own less than two percent of all farmland.”
We Grow Farms, a Black-owned farm in West Sacramento, California, is known for helping residents obtain fresh produce. However, the establishment faces hardship after developers plan to build homes on its land.
After learning of the news, the Ujamaa Farmer Collective plans to use the $1.25 million in funding to acquire the land in Yolo County, California. Each farm will have a plot ranging from half an acre to five acres while sharing the same resources.
Ujamaa means “extended family” in Swahili and embodies cooperative economics and inclusivity. The group’s goal is to “elevate everybody’s potential so [we] can all thrive,” according to Hawkins, per Because Of Them We Can.
In September, The Sacramento Observer reported that Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, representing most of Yolo County, expressed how significant the “investment” is for BIPOC farmers.
“This investment is critical for the future of farming in Yolo County because it supports young BIPOC farmers who face tremendous challenges to be successful farmers,” Aguiar-Curry told the outlet. “California’s farmers and ranchers are diverse; now more than ever, we are seeing an increase in women farmers and farmers of color. It is imperative that we support and understand the opportunities they have and the challenges they face in order to thrive.”
The initiative plans to shed light on Black farmers’ ongoing challenges in the United States to keep their businesses afloat.