Agriculture Bae: 6 Black Women Making Farming Accessible And Revolutionary
Life & Travel

Agriculture Bae: 6 Black Women Making Farming Accessible And Revolutionary

We see it all over social: The recipes with fresh fruits and veggies and exotic spices. We see all the health-conscious gworls adding soul to what would be bland salads and soups. We double-tap content of women moving down South or overseas to nurture crops in their backyards or start urban gardens on city rooftops.

With the challenges of food deserts in Black communities, as well as the global food problem that negatively impacts communities of color all around the world, representation is important. And as Black women heading households, meal prepping, trying to stay healthy, and facing issues like lack of access and funds to keep up, there are activists, creatives, farmers, and advocates working to forge change for all of us.

Here are a few of them that we should all be giving our flowers to this Black History Month and beyond:

Abril Giles of Beauty Herbs Tea

Giles, who has shared her journey (and struggles) to gain ownership of 87 acres of Georgia land (that includes multiple streams and pear, apple, and persimmon trees, to name a few), founded an online shop that offers tea, merchandise, and classes from trained herbalists.

She also launched a herbal retreat, that allows attendees to enjoy luxury while getting knowledge on indigenous herbalism and culture, and a school. She’s been super-clear about her mission to educate about the impact of land theft and funding discrimination that Black farmers and land owners have historically faced while empowering via content embracing a mix of Afro-centric beauty, fashion, art, and of course, farming.

Kelis of Bounty Farms

It was a big shock to many when Kelis decided to pursue her love for food as a trained chef in 2014, and then, when she stepped back from publicly prioritizing music for a bit to focus on her farm in 2020, We've all been inspired not only by the beautiful star quality she lends to anything she does, but the fact that her mere presence as an unapologetic Afro-Latina woman in fab branded dungarees, continues the legacy of Black women farming the land and using the fruits for everything from food, to hair products, to sauces.

Her boxes, filled with goodies like organic face creams made with cucumber seed oil, or kits that include raspberry-infused red wine vinegar often sell out within hours of their release, giving a nod to the fact that the stuff that grows from the earth can have divine, diverse, and wildly popular uses.

Clarenda Stanley of Green Heffa Farms

Stanley, CEO of Green Heffa Farms, left a career in fundraising to start her farm and attracts a robust Instagram following of more than 180,000 with her tell-it-like-it-is depictions of what it truly means to be a Black woman who fully owns a farm. She’s big on what she calls “the 4Es: economic empowerment, equity, education, and environment,” helping to connect other underrepresented and underserved farmers with resources, educating them on starting, owning, and expanding farms, and embracing sustainability and ethical farming practices.

Jillian Hishaw 

A strategist and attorney trained in agriculture, food systems, and asset protection, Hishaw has fought on behalf of Black farmers who have experienced discrimination and other tactics that threaten land ownership. She brings her passion to the work from her own personal experience: Her family lost their Oklahoma farm by shady means and they later found out the farm was replaced by an oil pump, according to her book. She has written other books educating farm and land owners about their rights and other issues related to underserved communities when it comes to the multi-trillion-dollar asset of farm real estate.

She is also the CEO of Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.) an international non-profit organization that provides legal services to small Black farmers within the U.S. and globally. Her efforts have helped small farms beat foreclosure, addressed rural poverty through donations and advocacy, and combated food insecurity in communities around the world.

Alexis Nikole Nelson of Black Forager

More than 5 million followers across TikTok and Instagram love her refreshing and fun content informing us all about the everyday joys of finding amazing fresh foods, as she collects and cooks everything from yellow dandelions to summer oyster mushrooms to Kentucky coffee beans. Beyond exposing us to the wonders of free goodies possibly growing right in our backyards, her content advocates for respect for nature while opening all of our eyes to consider trying to produce, spices, and herbs beyond what we might traditionally be used to. She also shares unique vegan dishes via her own recipes.

Karena Polk of Lettuce Live

Polk serves as “chief farm officer” of Lettuce Live, an urban farm project founded in 2012. A partnership with United Health Care and Wal-Mart in Memphis has expanded into a community-based initiative to launch a small business selling herbs and vegetables, as well as offering monthly cooking classes with a culinary art school.

Polk is a garden educator who hosts hands-on garden courses and team-building workshops. She also builds on-site gardens for individuals and corporations, serving the mission of Lettuce Live to “create more opportunities for people to grow their own food while ensuring under-served communities have access to fresh produce.”

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Featured image by Charday Penn/Getty Images




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