Resiliency of Black Farmers in Durham

— Written By Janel Ohletz
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Durham, Agriculture, and Black History Month

February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month; a month when we celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans who have left their mark in history. One such individual is Carl Dubois Hodges Sr., Durham County Cooperative Extension’s first Black Extension Director, who was not only the first Black Extension Director in Durham County, but also North Carolina and the United States.

Fast forward to the present and Black Americans of Durham County are having impact in our community working to address food security. As the Small Farms and Local Foods Agriculture Agent for Durham County, I want to highlight farmers in Durham that are currently making history and building resiliency and equity into Durham’s food system.

vendors and farmer's market customers

Black Farmer’s Market held the 4th Sunday of the month in Durham spring through fall. Local Durham residents shopping at one of the local famers at the Sunday market. Photo credit Black Farmers Market

Durham has a complex agriculture and food system history, as shown in this Timeline for Durham Food History compiled by Duke University’s School of Public Policy  World Food Policy Center. One of the ways our community is progressing and building equity and resiliency into our food system is through the actions of our Black farming community.

Moving forward with strength, resiliency, and equity

Durham is fortunate to have many Farmers Markets within our boundaries. The local food movement is strong within the Black community in Durham, demonstrated by the success of the Black Farmers Market. The Black Farmers Market started as an occasional event in Durham. The popularity of the market has allowed the market to expand to hold the market every other Sunday from spring through fall and expand into Raleigh. In addition, the number of Black farmers increased, as well as value added businesses using products grown by local black farmers.

However, I am most excited to write about some of the wonderful farmers within the Durham County who grow and produce food for the community. And who are working to build increase equity and resiliency in the food system for Durham.

Catawba Trail Farm – Urban Community AgriNomics is a non-profit organization centered on teaching adults, families, and youth about agriculture and life skills and healthy food preparation. Through their 47 raised beds they grown food to support food security in Durham County.

Durham Greens Farm owned by Nicole and David Owens is a regenerative agriculture based market garden with fresh produce and pasture meats.

Elijah’s Farm owned by Amber Burgin is an ADA friendly farm selling fresh vegetables and fish.

Grass Grazed owned by Paige and Derrick Jackson raises and sells pasture meats, eggs, and dairy using regenerative agriculture practices.

Jireh Family Farm owned by Valerie and Immanuel Jarvis grows and sells pasture meats, eggs, medicinal and culinary herbs, along with interactive summer camps

Tierra Negra, a farmer collective operated by Christina Rivera Chapman and Tahz Walker, grows a variety of foods for food boxes and the community. They also provide classes and training for a resilient food system for the Durham community and beyond.