Sustainable Practices and Transitional Programming 

Since 2006, SAAFON has been promoting the adoption and practice of organic agriculture, and ensuring that Black farmers see themselves reflected in the sustainable agriculture movement. While this began with training farmers who were seeking organic certification, our focus has expanded to support the range of sustainable farmers, including those who are certified organic, naturally grown, ancestral, heritage, regenerative, biodynamic, agroecological, and more.

Through a collection of offerings, projects, and events, we continue to support our members in the learning and exchanging best practices for being in right relationship to the lands they steward. These include:

  • Field Days, in-person opportunities to learn and experience a production or land practice centering a farm within of our network
  • GROW Calls, virtual network-wide meetings to discuss practices and common interests
  • Transitional Programming, a pathway that includes assessment, technical assistance, and mentorship
  • Education and Exchange funds, access to resources to support an educational experience or learning exchange from SAAFON’s Direct Farmer Support Fund

SAAFON’s “transitional” membership includes farmers who are seeking organic certification, farmers who are scaling up production, those who are transitioning from homesteading (growing for sustenance) to commercial growing (growing for market/sale), as well as returning generation farmers who have inherited land and are interested in re-establishing a farm.

In 2022, in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Operation Spring Plant, SAAFON secured a grant from Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (SARE) to explore the relationship between weed management and cover cropping. In this research project, we are working with five network farmers in Mississippi and Georgia to study the weeds on each farm, and how they respond to various cover crops over a two year period. Through field days and learning sessions, we are exploring best practices in weed suppression/management, and land remediation, while connecting farmers to each other through a shared experience.

In 2023, SAAFON joined organizations and academic institutions across our region as a partner in USDA’s Southeast Transition to Organic Partnership Program (SE TOPP). In collaboration with Florida Organic Growers (FOG) and Georgia Organics, SAAFON is supporting access to a range of organic focused programming, including the regional mentorship program, and expanding our work to include field days and events that promote sustainable practices from the Southern Black agrarian perspective.

 Members of our network are ever expanding their practices. We are committed to promoting ecologically sustainable production, based on an agrarian ethos that elevates ancestral ways of stewardship, including cover cropping, pasture management, forest conservation, composting and vermicomposting, and more.

Through the continued development of our sustainable practices and transitional tier programming, SAAFON is visioning towards maintaining and promoting a list of recommended practices rooted in Black agrarianism, disseminated through peer-to-peer exchange experiences and national, regional and local networking with other Black farmers. Educational support, that ensures ongoing technical assistance, and mentorship with other members feeds our farmer support model of farmer organizing and promoting sustainable land stewardship.  

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