PITTSBORO, NC – May 26, 2021 – (LATINX NEWSWIRE) – Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) today announced 50 recipients of its Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund grants. The grant program, now in its second year, provides grants of up to $10,000 for farm infrastructure, processing and refrigeration, or collaborative projects with multiple farmers. In 2021, the fund has awarded $369,200 to 50 grantees across 10 states. The program expanded significantly this year, awarding nearly double the number of grants over 2020 and widening the geographic scope of grantees to include more states in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region.
This project is supported in part by a three-year grant of $675,000 for the Farmers of Color Network from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as well as funding from the Seeds, Soul and Culture Fund/New Field Foundation and a grant from an anonymous donor-advised fund at The Chicago Community Foundation.
RAFI-USA Executive Director Edna Rodriguez said, “We are pleased that we were able to expand the Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic in 2021, thanks to an incredibly generous and growing group of funders. Farmers of color make up just 4% of all farmers in the US; the Farmers of Color Network seeks to grow that number by investing in the creativity and innovation of traditionally underserved farmer communities.”
RAFI-USA’s Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund provides support to farmers for new and innovative agricultural projects that will increase farm viability, support community food sovereignty efforts, preserve traditional and cultural farming practices, as well as assist local food economies. Of the 50 grantees this year, 72% are Black, 14% Indigenous, 6% Latinx, 2% Asian, and 2% multi-racial. Twenty-five grants were awarded to women-led farms.
Isabel Soto at Colusa Farms in Naples, Florida is installing a walk-in cooler on the farm, where she will store lettuce and herbs before selling them at markets and to local restaurants, nursing homes, and schools. The new cooler will cut down on waste by prolonging the harvest’s shelf life. “Our company has always focused on environmentally sound farming practices and creating high-paying jobs, a friendly work environment, and profit-sharing jobs within our community,” Isabel says.
In Birmingham, Alabama, Maria Dominique Villanueva is expanding Fountain Heights Farm’s aquaponics learning facility. The facility will teach various options for aquaponics setups. “We want to serve as a regional learning site where low-resource and underserved communities in Alabama can come to learn more about raised bed farming and aquaponics: the process and set up, how to implement the best system for their area,” says Maria. “ We feel a deep obligation to share our knowledge with neighboring communities and want to expand our ability to facilitate more free and low-cost learning opportunities.”
Other farm projects supported by the 2021 Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Fund include projects to expand poultry and livestock operations, construct walk-in coolers for storage and processing, build solar-powered fencing for livestock grazing fields, and create mobile produce markets. See grantee profiles on the RAFI-USA website and learn more about the Farmers of Color Network.
RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community. RAFI-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990.
ABOUT The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF)
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.