Nonprofit, Local Churches Partner to Support Farmers of Color

LaTonya Andrews, the owner of Soul City Farm, says "As a Black farmer, it’s quite important to have these types of CSAs that support the work that we do to be able to keep our farm going."

To combat inequality in the food system, a new pilot program created by the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA this spring is partnering Wake County churches with N.C. farmers of color.

Eight churches — including Cary’s Christ the King Lutheran Church and Good Shepherd United Church of Christ — are participating in the Farm and Faith Partnerships Project, an eight-week initiative that’s part of RAFI-USA’s Come to the Table Program. Beginning with planting in February, the project aims to create new local markets to sell produce grown by Black-owned farms and support a demographic that has historically been marginalized in agriculture.

“The goal is that these relationships would result in farmers of color getting additional resources and sources of income, and increased access to new local markets,” RAFI-USA program coordinator Jarred White said. “Rural faith community members, on the other hand, would gain increased food security and access to fresh and healthy foods.”

RAFI-USA anticipates the effort will produce $20,000 in sales, which will be split between three farms — Rocky Ridge Farm in Louisburg, Soul City Farm in Warren County, and Singing Stream Farm in Granville County.

Spring crops leaf out at Soul City Farm.

As a fourth-generation farmer of color with 60 acres of land, LaTonya Andrews, the owner of Soul City Farm, says the community-supported agriculture (CSA) partnership will “help tremendously.”

“From my experience, it’s difficult to find that financial backing,” Andrews said. “A lot of times, historically, we’ve had some struggles when it comes to systemic racism and being able to get funds and good loans that aren’t going to cause us to be further in debt or lose our property as small farmers. As a Black farmer, it’s quite important to have these types of CSAs that support the work that we do to be able to keep our farm going. Every little bit counts.”

This spring, Andrews has dedicated four acres of land to the project, planting 11 vegetables, including broccoli, beets, spinach, collard greens and turnips. The program is expected to begin distributing produce from the farms to churches in late April and continuing through May.

As part of participating in the project, each church can decide how it would like to partner with the farmers, such as hosting a farmer’s market on the grounds or creating a food box purchasing group.

Coordinated by members Susie Oliver and Sofia Sands, Good Shepherd United Christian Church became involved in the project because it already has a community garden and the goals of the project fit within the larger mission of the church.

“We have been doing a lot of anti-racism work over the years, so to me this was a real tangible way to do something based on what we’re taught when we’re trying to embody the words and actions of the teachings of Christ,” Oliver said.

Twenty-five members at Good Shepherd have signed up to purchase half-shares of produce, or a weekly delivery that will feed two people about six meals. Sands said any leftover vegetables the church has will be donated to Dorcas Ministries in Cary.

RAFI-USA is already planning to expand the pilot project based upon feedback received from the farmers and other participants. More than 120 people are part of the project’s first run.

“There’s definitely momentum and excitement about continuing into the summer season and into the fall, and becoming a long-term partnership,” White said. “In terms of other instances for the farm-and-faith partnership projects, we definitely want to continue to build on the momentum that has developed through this and continue to partner with farmers of color throughout the state.


  • Mary Shelton says:

    As a Black Senior Citizen , who has physical challenges, how can I benefit from some of the fresh vegetables? Would I have to make it to Dorcas in Cary from Fuquay Varina? I am in PT twice weekly and it is not easy as I am alone. I used to grow my own in the back yard however with a major surgery with a cage in my lower back and Fibromyalgia- I could no longer start a garden in the back yard. Thanks in advance for all you do! God’s Continued Blessings!

    • Amber Keister says:

      For fresh vegetables that are a little closer to home, perhaps you could contact someone from a community garden in Fuquay-Varina? The Covenant Community Garden is located at Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church, 100 S. Judd Parkway SE, Fuquay-Varina. Their phone number is (919)880-7413. Good luck!

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