We are dedicated to creating an alternative food system that places the wellbeing of Black farmers and Black communities at its center
alsie parks is an atlanta-native, that advocates and activates the use of food as an organizing tool for healing and liberation. as a child of the south, she is the granddaughter of educators, sharecroppers, and black land owners with ancestral land in Lincolnton, GA. as a farmer organizer, agrarian cultural worker, food systems practitioner, land steward and nurturer she serves by cultivating intimate and responsive relationships with and for the land and our people that activate remembrance, honor sacred traditions and shares in the practice of Black land-based lifeways and foodways. she currently serves as the Director of Field Organizing for SAAFON and is the former Southern Regional Organizer for the National Black Food & Justice Alliance. in addition to her work with SAAFON alsie is a founding core member of Fort Negrita Cooperative, Black Mycelium Project, and the Black Agrarian Workers of the South Collective (BAWS). she values the love, labor and intelligence of farmers, black cultural geographies, storytelling, truth telling, kitchen magic, hospitality, porch talks, sisterhood, big mama energy, being queer and being expansive.
Whitney Jaye (she/they) is a farmer-organizer, land steward, and mother whose love for the land and sea stem back deep into her life and lineage.
As a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, Whitney Jaye sees her work through the lens of Black Southern lifeways that (re)center agrarianism, and through the ancestral memories and practices of coastal Carolinian culture. She has done a variety of food systems work and organizing, from farming and youth agricultural education, to farmers market management, and cooperative development. She has designed and implemented a variety of projects and programs with diverse partners, including with The Conservation Fund, City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Morehouse School of Medicine, Ashoka Changemakers, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.
Whitney Jaye currently serves as the Director of Strategic and Programmatic Development at the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON), where she anchors the development of our programs and projects, and works to ensure that the organization’s strategies, offerings, and partnerships reflect the needs of its members, and aligns with the organization’s mission.
In addition to her work with SAAFON, Whitney Jaye is the farmer/steward of Sunbird Flowers in Lithonia, Georgia, a founding member of the Black Agrarian Workers of the South Collective (BAWS), has served on the Leadership Team of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA), and the Steering Committee of the Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative (SWAG). She deeply values the brilliance, spirit, and abundance of Black Southern agrarian magic, and has been a witness to its power to transform and heal.
Tamara comes to us from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, where her duties included assisting local farmers to access all of the services and resources available through Agricultural Natural Resources (ANR), Family and Consumer Sciences(FACS) and 4-H programs. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Tammy moved to Georgia as a preteen. She spent most of her teenage years traveling weekly between metro Atlanta and the rural Georgia family farm. In 1994, Tammy attended the University of West Georgia and later Georgia Perimeter College where she studied Business Management. Tammy has been a long-time advocate for environmental conservation, traditional homesteading practices, and cultural heritage projects. In 2001, Tammy left an accounting career to travel across North America visiting various North American sub – cultures including the Amish, Gullah – Geechee, and Native Americans. She developed friendships with many of the residents in these communities and eventually opened a retail store that highlighted many of their arts and crafts contributions. In 2004, she published the first of three books celebrating the local history and contributions of small towns in America. In 2015, she co – founded a nonprofit historical cultural heritage museum called This Old Farmhouse, GA located in Heard County. The museum also serves as an agritourism attraction exploring the daily lives of small – scale West GA farming families during the early – mid 20th century.
Jason is the first generation in his family born off the farm. He found a part of himself he didn’t know was missing through working the land. After graduating from college, Jason was on fire and driven to be an agent of change with a particular focus on youth development. He returned home to Pitt County with a vision of teaching in the public schools. For the next two years he taught Language Arts at his former middle school.
When his first child was on the way, Jason reached back to his ancestral agrarian roots and started a garden and found that in harmony and communion with the natural elements hours passed unnoticed and uncounted. Connecting with the land birthed a vision to restore the connection of people and land. In 2013, Jason stepped out of the public school system to work on advancing his vision full-time. Jason began managing an existing community garden within a larger community garden network in Greenville, NC. Through the garden achievements and his community engagement Jason was quickly promoted to manager all eight community gardens in the network. He also registered the first urban farm in his town, selling organic vegetables to local CSA’ s, juicing companies, and a mobile food market.
After years of cultivating community through the community garden network. Jason developed a youth agricultural training program – Cultivating Youth Entrepreneurs (CYE) and an urban farm school curriculum. CYE graduates have gone on to establish their own production farms and enroll in university seeking agriculture-related degrees.
Jason continues to be an educator, taking the practical and theoretical knowledge he has gained through his journey to reclaiming his agrarian identity and serves as a consultant to local farms and organization on best practices, certification, and operation management. With a clear calling for this work, Jason continues farming and building farmer – to – farmer relationships as a means to establish self – sustainable food systems throughout our communities.
Kayla is a native of Southwest Atlanta whose special power is opening the lines of communication between communities and organizations to get things done. She currently serves as an Organizer of The Free Black Women’s Library Atlanta and Founder of BlkGrl Bookshop, both spaces center the works and lives of Black writers and work to deconstruct barriers to literary access.
Kayla is an obsessive book lover, reader, and servant of Black women storytellers. True to form, Kayla is a Cancer to the core with three main veins as her world continues to evolve; love, protect, and build.
Jael is shy but fierce, reserved but resilient. An artist in every way with a nurturing heart. Natural highs are laughing, eating, fun, family and friends. She is always ready for an adventure and shine no matter where they go.. Jane of all trades and multi-talented, heavenly favored and highly educated! A mother and wife, and a friend for life! Jael is a sweet soul who would give you their last. Graduating from Devry University with an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management & Marketing was just a drop in the bucket for her to reach her long yet adventurous goal of assisting my family in building our farm and land base. Jael grew up centered around farming and what it entails. Jael is a third-generation agrarian with a special interest on how we work with what we grow. Jael enjoys teaching others about how we can integrate farming into our home cuisine on a daily basis.
Zel Taylor ( they/ them ) is a Black queer non binary farmer in the deep South. Their people are from Atlanta, Waynesboro, Calhoun and Augusta Georgia area. As the descendant of sharecroppers, enslaved landworkers, farmers and herbalists, they are deeply committed to a relationship with the land through growing food, foraging, and spending time with community on the land. Zel has spent time as a farm and nutrition educator , operated a small plant-based business, built two tiny living spaces to sustain needs around farming, and traveled , worked on and co managed small production farms across the country. Their land practice includes growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs at their farm Down by the River Farm and Art Collective. They are an artist of many sorts, builder, crochet/ basket weaving enthusiast, painter, seamstress in training , and enjoy cooking all the wonderful produce grown. Zel is inspired by the work and words of Fannie Lou Hammer and by their ancestors that tended to this land. They deeply believe that liberation is rooted in the ability to access land to feed oneself and community and with a relationship that honors the land as kin. As a dreamer these seeds are deeply woven into their vision.
Kiyah’s story starts with a cobweb. When she was a little girl, her grandmother told her that wounds could be healed with a clean spider web. From then on, the outdoors became her playground. Kiyah learned all the different functionalities of plants, rocks, and animals.
As she had gotten older, she participated in 4-H and many other youth events. In 2016, her family acquired a historic textile mill and opened it to the public to teach about traditional practices and ways to live. By the time college came around Kiyah had a clear path of what she wanted to do. Kiyah wanted to heal people with nature and with a concentration on self-sufficient lifestyles and sustainable harvesting practices.
Kiyah spends her time in the field learning from plants. She has published several books detailing plants and plant medicine. Now, she gets to live her dream building connections with farmers here at SAAFON as the Communications Assistant.
Regional Farming and Field Events Fellows –
Cluster Pilot Program (2023)
Yvette Browne – USVI, Anchor and SAAFON Board Chair
Frank Robinson VI – USVI, Fellow
Loretta Adderson – GA, Anchor
Tianna Neal – GA, Fellow
James Franklin – MS, Anchor
Tracy Galloway – MS, Fellow
Bernard Obie -NC, Anchor
Tahz, Walker – NC, Fellow
Keisha Cameron – Virtual, Anchor
Sariyah Benoit – Virtual, Fellow