SAAFON Summer 2021 Newsletter

SAAFON Summer 2021 Newsletter


It’s Been a busy summer!


In this edition you will find upcoming opportunities, learn more about SAAFON’s Farmer Brigades and read about recent news impacting Black farmers.

SAAFON 2021 Spring Farm Brigades Applauded By Georgia Farmers

The greatest wealth is the land’s ability to support human life and health. As Sará Reynolds-Green put it, “the land is the key to our life, and without it we cannot all be healthy.” In ancestral African agrarian communities, compromising the ecological health and integrity of the land and the water is the gravest error and prohibition. Thus, practicing ecological farming is also an honoring of our ancestral legacies.

Starting May of 2021, SAAFON supported our farmer members with infrastructure builds and labor needs during the pilot season for the GA Farmer Brigade series. SAAFON collaborated with farmers across the state, hosting five on-farm collective work days. Participants engaged in organized work and communion, where 6-8 farmers, many rotating to each other’s farms to complete 1-2 projects per brigade. Each brigade was typically a “day trip” to the respective host farm and had no more than 15 people at each gathering. Covid protocols were in place to secure a safe convening.

Projects included painting a legacy cooperative’s headquarters, staking tomatoes, weeding garden beds, castrating a sheep and more. All projects were completed and most farmers expressed a deep appreciation for the “extra hands that make work light”.

The purpose of the work brigades is to address the issue of Black farmers’ expressed need for support in the areas of farm labor and capital. The brigade series created space for farmer connection, learning exchange and shared accomplishment through working together.

Some of the highlights included working with youth organizations, (i.e. Gangstas2Growers, Green Clothe Collective) intergenerational story-telling (conversations about growing up on a farm, the importance of generational wealth, collective power and faith ), documenting family farm histories, introducing SAAFON farmer members to one another, and of course fantastic food! Lunch, travel stipends and host honorariums were provided for participants.

SAAFON organizers and farmers alike, expressed the need and desire to continue these work brigades. As this series of brigades came to a close, requests were made to be added to the participant list for next year.

The SAAFON team is tentatively preparing for farmer brigades this Fall, final plans are to be determined based on evolving concerns of the Covid Delta variant.

– Tammy Harris

P.S. See also this article on one of the Georgia Brigades in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution!

SAAFON Allies, International Movements, Scientists and Researchers Boycotting United Nations Food Systems Summit

Nearly 810 million people in the world are on the brink of starvation and malnutrition today. In the United States, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people struggled to access healthy food in the face of competing costs from necessities like education, childcare, transportation, and health. The economic downturn and twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, only made things more difficult for most people in the US, and as usually happens, most difficult of all for Black folks: 23% of households had problems sustainably accessing sufficient food in 2020, including 36% of Black households.

So it is a particularly bad time for the United Nations to hold an international Food Systems Summit that ignores the real causes of food insecurity and environmentally-destructive industrial agriculture, and instead tries to give corporations more of a say in our food system. From the start, the Summit has ignored concerns and voices from organized movement groups and food justice experts. Small scale family farmers, laborers, environmental, racial, and food justice activists, and even the United Nations’ current and former “Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food” have said that the summit needed to “fundamentally change the course” in order to address the real problems in our food system.

We know for a fact that a small number of corporations dominate our food and agriculture systems. They seek to sell more fertilizers, pesticides, heavy machinery, and proprietary seeds and breeds; to gobble up more land from small-scale farmers, be they in Africa or the US South; to pay our farmers less than what their products are worth and at the same time sell foods that make our communities sicker. And we know that agroecology, afroecology, and strong, self-sufficient local Black communities—parts of what has been called “Black agrarianism”—offers wisdom and practical community-based alternatives to corporatized agriculture.

For these reasons, the SAAFON staff supports our allies in questioning the very basis of this international summit. Instead of creating new spaces for corporations and governments to tilt the terms of agricultural systems in their favor, governments should be committed to listening to and working with farmers and social movements themselves.

Learn more at, and watch SAAFON staff member Noah McDonald and others discuss the “The True Costs of ‘Highly Developed’ Industrial Food Systems” here.

– Jahi Chappell

Upcoming events

Focus group with BIPOC organic farmers, led by SAAFON member Felicia Bell:

  • Andy Pressman (NCAT) and Carolyn Dimitri (NYU) are trying to understand the challenges facing certified organic farmers regarding the economic sustainability of their farm operations. We are seeking certified organic farmers to participate in a virtual focus group so that we can understand their particular financial or economic challenges.
  • Our next focus group will be for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organic farmers, where we will discuss their specific needs. The focus group will be held on August 25, 1-2:30 pm EST. This focus group will be led by Felicia Bell of NCAT.
  • Farmers are able to participate via zoom (we would prefer this if you are able) or call into the session, if internet access is an issue. Farmers will receive a $75 honorarium for participating in a 90 minute focus group and filling out a very brief survey prior to the focus group.
  • If interested, Contact Andy Pressman at either or 479-587-3475, or Carolyn Dimitri ( to express your interest in participating and they will follow up with additional information.
  • Carolyn and Andy add: “Thank you for considering our request. Your participation would help ensure the success of our research, and we would be grateful if you would be able to spare the time to join us. If you are interested in participating but are not available on August 25, please let us know and we will contact you at a later date for a different focus group. Best regards, Carolyn Dimitri and Andy Pressman. (This research is funded by USDA NIFA OREI, contract number 2020-5130-32182.)”

Other items of note:

Support for USVI Farmer Member Violet -Help Violet Drew’s Farm recover from fire damages! SAAFON US Virgin Island farmer member Ra’s Sunrise Daughter Farm Stand recently suffered a tremendous loss of the majority of their farming equipment and supplies in an uncontrolled fire that crossed onto their property. This terrible event threatens the vitality of their farming operation. This wonderful farming family urgently needs community support to get back on their feet. (SAAFON Board Chair Yvette Browne’s) Sejah Farm, and Ridge to Reef Farm have joined together to organize this fundraiser for these fellow farmers. We need you to make it a success!

Policy Update: The $4 billion in loan forgiveness set aside by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to correct decades of injustice, systemic racism and admitted discriminatory behavior by the federal government as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed into law by President Joe Biden in March has been held up by legal actions filed by conservative legal groups on behalf of White farmers. SAAFON allies and partners like the Rural Coalition and the Land Loss Prevention Project, RAFI-USA, the National Black Food & Justice Alliance and the HEAL Food Alliance have released statements and are taking legal actions to implement the loan forgiveness program, which is just a drop in the bucket of what is owed to Black farmers. See this recent article from Politicoto learn more about the latest status and issues at hand.

Land report: “This past #Juneteenth, the SAAFON team published its first report, Growing the Legacy: Stewarding a Black Agrarian Revival in the Rural South.

The report is a culmination of many years of work at SAAFON. The report contains a brief description of SAAFON, interviews with selected legacy farmer members, and a brief outline of strategies to interrupt land loss and facilitate an agrarian revival in the Southeast. We invite you to share amongst your networks as you see fit – peer organizations, colleagues, clients, reading groups & book clubs, friends and family.

Read full report at!


SAAFON Team: Alsie, Whitney Jaye, Jahi, Tammy, Noah, Jason and Maya

SAAFON Board: Ms. Yvette, Dr. Owusu, Mr. Buie, Dr. Cindy, Ms. Sandra, Blain, and Mr. Hayes

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