February is Black History Month, and this year's celebration focuses on Black Health & Wellness. This theme goes beyond physical well-being, encompassing mental and spiritual health while honoring the practitioners and scholars who have worked in Black communities.
Food is, of course, part of every community's health and wellness, and it's a key component of holistic health. Food is an essential part of cultural identity and belonging, and it underscores relationships to the land and to each other.
To celebrate Black History Month, we're highlighting a few of the amazing nonprofit organizations across the United States whose work in food and agriculture promotes the well-being of Black Americans.
This selection is by no means exhaustive! It represents a fraction of the many BIPOC-led nonprofits working toward a just and equitable food system for all.
"Urban Growers Collective’s work aims to address the inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color."
Chicago-based Urban Growers Collective (UGC) focuses on urban agriculture as a tool for economic revitalization, food security and overall community health. The Black- and women-led nonprofit operates eight urban farms across 11 acres, predominantly on Chicago's South Side. In 2021, Time Out featured UGC in their segment on "10 Black-owned businesses that are shaping Chicago right now."
If you are in the Chicago area, you can support Urban Growers Collective by buying their products. Their latest events, job training and employment opportunities can be found on the UGC Facebook page — visit often for fresh listings.
"Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system."
Soul Fire Farm is an 80-acre regenerative farm and education center located on Mohican land in New York State. The team grows food, soil and activism — and they do it all while investing in the next generation of skilled Black and Brown growers.
Soul Fire Farm's impacts include a community-supported agriculture program to address food apartheid and on-farm immersion programs for growers of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx heritage to participate in a culturally-relevant food system. Nationally, team members contribute their powerful voices to antiracist and food sovereignty work (should you ever have the opportunity to enjoy Leah Penniman's powerful keynotes or Naima Penniman's inspiring poetry, do not pass it up!). The workshop Uprooting Racism in the Food System is an essential resource for nonprofits and food sector organizations.
"Our mission is to heal and transform the wounds suffered by the people and the land through reparative genealogy and regenerative agriculture."
Jubilee Justice addresses antiracism in focused initiatives and at scale. They pursue reconciliation with small groups while organizing larger initiatives that help Black farmers achieve economic stability through sustainable agriculture.
The Jubilee Justice Journeys Program facilitates difficult conversations between individuals across race and class, creating "conditions for people to self-reflect and take a deep dive into how the issues surrounding Land, Race, Money & Spirit have defined America’s past and reimage and actively lean into a new future."
The Black Farmers Program supports sustainable, regenerative practices that build economic stability and soil health for the Black-owned farms that adopt them. One Jubilee Justice project — systems of rice intensification (SRI) — helps farmers transition parts of their land to organic rice farming using holistic methods to increase yields and decrease costs.
With an unflinching gaze at American history and how it has led us to the present day, Jubilee Justice works toward a better, healthier and more just future.
"The National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA) is a coalition of Black-led organizations aimed at developing Black leadership, supporting Black communities, organizing for Black self-determination, and building institutions for Black food sovereignty & liberation."
The National Black Food and Justice Alliance brings together dozens of member organizations to address regional and national initiatives to elevate Black food sovereignty and land ownership.
For example, NBFJA is working to preserve Black farmland in Pembroke Township, IL in the path of a proposed pipeline. The Black Land and Power coalition acts strategically to address the massive land loss inflicted on Black Farmers during the last century.
NBFJA's membership includes some familiar names, such as Soul Fire Farm and Jubilee Justice, as well as many organizations worth learning more about.
The impacts of an unjust food system run deeply through nearly all aspects of life, braided into well-being, autonomy and sovereignty. Change in any of these areas inevitably impacts the others — and food system reform can transform the communities where it grows.
There is no shortage of nonprofits, activists and farmers who move the work of food justice forward, and we've named only a few of them here. You can learn more through the links shared here, or, to offer direct support to organizations in your region or across the country, visit Reparations & Rematriation for Black-Indigenous Farmers, an interactive resource hosted by Soul Fire Farm.