Direct Farmer Support Fund

Since 2020, SAAFON’s Direct Farmer Support Fund has provided more than $500,000 in emergency relief, education stipends, and infrastructure grants to farmers across 8 states across the Southeast region and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Spring of 2020, in the wake of the ongoing threats associated with COVID-19 as a global pandemic, SAAFON launched the pilot of Direct Farmer Support Fund (DFSF). This initial round was shaped in response to our ongoing conversations with farmer members, needs assessments, and data aggregation revealing their highest pain points as the U.S. food system began to experience significant supply chain challenges.

In this time of crisis, farmers reported not having market access with the closing of several grocers and markets, and needing core infrastructure to scale production. As many in the philanthropic community targeted their giving to Black farmer-centric organizations to address food system disruption, SAAFON leveraged the opportunity to re-grant its first investment of $150,000 directly to our farmers in rapid response funds.

The Direct Farmer Support does not currently provide microloans, as SAAFON experimented with zero-interest revolving loans to farmer members between 2017 and 2019. Rather than cultivate relationships with farmers that yield a “lender-lendee” dynamic, we leaned into intentionally replacing this familiar structure that many farmers have experienced in the relationship to farmer services agencies. We are committed to shifting the material conditions of Black farmers, and seek to lower the barriers of access to capital and infrastructure, recognizing the significant need.

SAAFON provides three types of grants to farmer-members through: 

  1. The Emergency Fund, for use in times of natural or pandemic crises, or in the case of farmer immediate needs (like farm flooding and crop loss). The emergency fund also provides for debt relief for farmers to halt default proceedings or other collection actions or full payment demands that put farmers at-risk of disrupting their legacy building and livelihoods through land loss. 
  2. The Education and Exchange (E&E) Fund, for individual face-to-face exchanges, conference or webinar attendance (including travel), mentorship, and online courses, to support the adoption of new sustainable land or business practices. 
  3. The Infrastructure Fund, for the development and acquisition of infrastructure and equipment, including the development of housing, fencing, irrigation coolers, transportation, machinery upgrades, and more. 

SAAFON envisions the expansion of our resource investments, through granting to both individual farms and collectives/clusters, and growing the infrastructure of Black farmers across the region. These farms act as more than sites of agricultural production – they are places for learning and culture keeping, models for sustainable land management, spaces for joy, and are anchors and pillars of their communities and local food and fiber economies.

To learn more about how you can support or donate to the Direct Farmer Support Fund, please reach out to Alisha Johnson Perry at

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