In episode 36 of Blackbelt Voices, Adena and Kara continue the conversation about Black food culture – this time from an agricultural angle. Our guest, Gerald Harris, along with his partners Derek Beasley and Gabrielle E.W. Carter (who was featured in the Netflix series High on the Hog as well as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal)started Tall Grass Food Box, a community-supported agricultural model (CSA).
Gerald told us about a Tuskegee professor named Booker T. Whatley who many call the godfather of CSA. He is best known for his regenerative farming system, in combination with the direct-marketing concept of a customer harvesting operation known as pick-your-own. Dr. Whatley has been said to be 30 years ahead of his time. Lots of experts in the field still refer to his 10 commandments for small farmers.
Gerald also pointed to the 1920 Census, which shows the number of Black farmers in America Peaked at 949,889. In 2019 there were just over 45,000 Black farmers according to figures from the US Department of Agriculture.
Tall Grass was born out of the pandemic. So Gerald says they’ve learned a lot about the CSA business space, who they could trust, and how to help. They have been expanding. Some other positive outcomes include they now have a refrigerated vehicle. Those funds were raised by their community and people who wanted to see them succeed.
Season 3 of Blackbelt Voices is brought to you by Southern Bancorp.
Southern Bancorp is one of America’s oldest and largest community development financial institutions, founded to provide underserved communities with access to capital and the wealth-building tools needed to grow. On the web at BankSouthern.com and SouthernPartners.org.
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