In search of African -American farmers here in California, we held the first Mo’ Better Food Conference in San Francisco in 1996. A few of our special guests that day were: Mohammad Nuru, then head of the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, Cathy Sneed, then head of The Garden Project, Drue Brown (Black Farmers of California nd Ben Burket, then president of The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives.
We invited various leaders to join us. Oba T’ Shaka, Greg Hodge, Eddie Abrams to name a few.
We concluded after a full day of speakers and comments for the audience that the African-American community was long overdue in being able to feed itself.
During this time, stats indicated a loss of 500,000 acres a year in the African – American community. In addition to land loss, the African-American community had gone through red-lining by major banks throughout the U.S. Their red-lining, along with re-development plans implemented by City Halls across the country, plans meant development would built on/over or go through these predominately African – American communities. These discriminatory practices led to many small African-American grocery stores to go out of business.
Over the years, many of these once upon healthy, community owned grocery stores transitioned into becoming grocery stores, typically owned by others outside of the community.
Our vision of reconnecting African-American farmers to the community therefore serves several purposes. One, by creating markets for the African- American farmers in the community, it helps the farmers make a living. Two, the community creates jobs in marketing and distribution from this relationship with the farmer. Three, by all the participants above working in the food industry, everyone has more access to fresh fruits and vegetables.