"Being Stewards of Land is Our Legacy": Exploring the Lived Experiences of Young Black Farmers
The oppressive histories of slavery, sharecropping, and discriminatory lending practices contribute to a modern American agricultural landscape where black farmers are underrepresented. While African Americans once made up 14% of the United States’ farmer population, today they only make up 1.4%. Moreover, the American farmer population overall is aging, and currently only 6% of farmers are under the age of 35. Despite these trends indicating decline, a small population of young black farmers is emerging. This qualitative case study aims to explore the experiences of this previously unexamined group of farmers. Participants found autonomy and self-sufficiency in agriculture, and a particular form of empowerment derived from reclaiming land and actively choosing to engage in work their ancestors were forced to do without pay. Findings from the study have implications for agricultural educators, extension professionals, and policy-makers working to cultivate a more diverse and representative body of American farmers.
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