As reported in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, there are two million farms in the US but only 35,470 of them are Black-owned. In West Virginia, military veteran and farmer Jason Tartt is trying to change that. Having grown up in the state, Tartt recollects how Black people from his community used to always have a hand in agriculture. However, as the Black population in the Mountain State has dwindled—a consequence of jobs in coal mining decreasing—much of West Virginia’s fertile land has become overlooked. For Tartt, farming is a way to build an enduring agriculture economy while empowering other Black people. Besides cultivating the land with fruit orchards and apiaries, he—along with late farmer Skye Edwards—founded a farm, joined forces with West Virginia State University Extension Service to create a program for Black and Brown farmers and then created the non-profit American Youth Agripreneur Association to develop young Black farmers. Read more about Tartt’s inspiring work and the efforts to redevelop agriculture at Yes! Magazine.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Haddix/USDA