Sustainable Agricultural Commune
Throughout the country, sustainable farmers are using innovative techniques to produce and distribute food. Food is now being grown on rooftops, in community gardens and anywhere there is space. Agricultural innovation runs across the food spectrum: from aquaponics to food hubs.
These new models are changing the way food is grown and distributed and it seems the sky is the limit when it comes to projects to increase locally grown, sustainably produced food. Coast to coast, agricultural entrepreneurs are working toward food independence both for city dwellers and rural residents. However, chronic poverty and underemployment – the legacy of our national oppression in Amerika – can be directly linked to our diets that cause chronic disease, high obesity rates and many health problems that accompany them. These types of physical debilities impact New Afrikan communities disproportionately due primarily to our anemic access to quality produce, grains, and meats.
Farming is no longer confined to rural America; food is now being cultivated in dense urban areas anywhere there is space. Urban farmers can be found on city rooftops, in small backyard plots, and in vacant lots growing food for their communities. To remedy this contradiction, we invite our Brothas and Sistas, and all who believe in a sustainable future, to link with local community organizers and pool their resources, expertise, and labor, to educate, organize and mobilize the New Afrikan communities’ residents for the Sustainable Agricultural Commune [SAC]. We define our Sustainable Agricultural Commune community gardens as: A portion of city-owned property used to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, wood products, native or ornamental plants for non-commercial purposes, i.e. where there is no exchange of goods for monetary value.
Sustainable agriculture is a way of growing or raising food, including animals, in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner using practices that protect the environment, safeguard human health, are humane to farm animals, and provides fair treatment to workers. Eating “sustainably” means eating food that is grown or raised according to these principles. Eating sustainably provides numerous personal health benefits, including decreased exposure to harmful substances such as pesticides, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and unhealthful food additives, and the potential to increase consumption of certain nutrients and antioxidants.
Finally, eating sustainably means supporting a more environmentally and socially responsible food system. It is within our power to embrace sustainable urban farming as a viable alternative at the outset, while simultaneously pooling our resources to build our own agricultural institutions to provide access to healthy, affordable, sustainable food from the farm for the surrounding community.
Our mission is to grow healthy food, healthy communities and a healthy local food system. Studies show that the simple act of growing food is an incredibly powerful way to change the overall health of our community. This work addresses a myriad of challenging issues, and ultimately our mission is about FOOD:
F– Focus on community needs
O– Outreach and education
O– Opportunities for healthy food access
D– Design of beautiful spaces
Our mission is doing ground breaking work engaging individuals, community centers, non-profits, businesses and vacant lots through city governments to bring a collective effort to restore our urban ecologies and create beautiful public spaces throughout the country. From hands-on experiential learning to more formal workshops and gardening programs, our goal is to lead the way for a new understanding of how, by working together, we can create a healthier community for all.
By bringing urban agriculture, food skills education and healthy food access to our people we will improve the environmental landscape and strengthen the ecosystems of the local neighborhoods. Through partnerships with the community, schools, neighborhood youth and their families we are starting a grassroots movement for food security that will transform the health and well-being of our community for future generations.
RECLAIMING OUR COMMUNITIES
To build something of substance from so little we must begin small. Throughout the New Afrikan and poor communities of Amerika there are vacant lots, open plots and tracts of aimless dirt that we can reclaim and transform into urban gardens that will not only feed our communities healthy and nutritious food, but also provide a valuable source of income for us all. Consider that less than 2% of the food consumed in the New Afrikan community is actually grown there; yet, we consume billions of dollar worth of food each year, much of it junk food, sodas, fast food, condiments, and processed smacks that, unfortunately, are staples of many poor folks’ diets because the stuff is cheap and filling. A community that is incapable of feeding itself, cannot be said to be truly free. One of the hallmarks of freedom is lack of dependence on others for the basic necessities of life – like “food!” We are speaking of NOT having to rely on anyone to come into our communities and build these structures, simply trading one form of dependency for a more benevolent form of dependency. Instead, we are speaking of owning, operating, planting, cultivating, picking, processing, and distributing the production of our gardens’ and farms ourselves.
Our nation is now experiencing a transformation of how we eat, produce and distribute our food and the rapid growth of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture across the county are evidence of this shift. Our program is addressing this need. Sustainable Agricultural Commune activists will work with us for 6-12 month terms that provide in-depth and hands-on experiences grounded in the business of sustainable urban agriculture. Our SAC activists’ are prepared to address the gaps across food production and delivery through our training and earn a certificate upon completion.
Community Unity: A Step-by-Step Approach to Sustainable Agriculture
Our first step will be to educate ourselves and the community to the need for food independence and their interest in collective ownership of their own food. Once we have been properly educated it is crucial that we canvass our community to educate our neighbors of what sustainable agriculture is and how fundamentally important it is that everyone understands our intentions.
Through a meticulous process, it is imperative that each square yard of land is cataloged, no matter how large or small, so that we are aware who owns it, and what it will take to get it zoned and secured for community use. Our primary focus in this regard will always be to buy the land outright, and every effort should be given to achieving this end. This step ensures that the land we cultivate is earmarked for a sustainable agricultural commune for its community and not have owners to take it back after our labor. Where it is impossible for us to purchase the land, securing its use by whatever means at our disposal will have to suffice.
Our next step will be developing a cohesive process to determine what to grow and where to grow our produce. Every region of the nation is different, and we must first determine which foods will grow best in or local region. Once determined, another survey of that community and the local businesses which use produce and poultry must be conducted to determine which fruits, vegetables, herbs, and grains are most widely grown, consumed, popular, and commercially valued in that area. We will then select our crop and produce composition based on what will grow best and what is most desired. These studies and processes determine which crops, among those selected, will grow most profusely and effectively in the various unique climates, environments and neighborhoods.
Next, we will begin to organize labor. Designated SAC activists will be charged with organizing other local activists, community organizers and local residents into the divisions of labor necessary to initiate the commune – both to raise the funds to start it and the heads to hands to work the land. Following the collective ownership format, we will canvas our neighbors and solicit contributions of $.50 to $1.00 per individual in a household every 90 days for one calendar year. We will also secure volunteers from within each community to work the gardens on a rotating basis. Ideally, we would like 100% participation in contributions of money and labor; however, we are conscious that the elderly and disabled may not be able to assist and will make adjustments as needed.
Collective Ownership And Outreach
Every member of the community who contributes to the SAC, be it labor or financial contributions, each will own the SAC. Everyone who contributes to that cycle will be given a commune membership card entitling them to 50% in produce and 50% in dividends. This means 50% of the seasonal yield will be set-aside to feed the community and 50% will go to market for sale. All produce sold to residents of that community who are not contributors will be sold goods at discounted rates through our farmers’ markets.
Our community gardens will provide economic benefits, increase social equity, strengthen our communities, and promote environmental stewardship.
The goals of the Sustainable Agriculture Commune are:
To support the sustainability goals for the New Afrikan communities: improve the quality of life for residents, create a healthy environment and enhance economic development and job creation opportunities;
To increase the public’s understanding of the value of community gardens and the need for community gardens in cities throughout the United States;
To encourage and facilitate local urban agriculture which increases access to fresh, nutritional food for residents-particularly those in underserved communities; and
To transform vacant and underutilized city parcels into productive gardens.
All SAC activists will be diligent in the pursuit of donors and sponsors for their particular communities and include in-kind donations of equipment and material. As the SAC expands, the commune can turn its attention to purchasing rural acreage for farming, the foundation of our own agricultural institutions where the focus will be on making purchases of land in 10-acre tract increments. If we are to create a society that values black life, we cannot ignore the role of food and land.
Rooting Food Independence in our Communities
The SAC will serve to literally root the process of progressive social change in our communities while impacting the Peoples daily lives positively. By ensuring we posses the means to produce our own healthy and nutritious food, creating a vital source of collective wealth, reclaiming and breathing life into what would be eyesores, or an excuse for police to harass poor people – we improve the quality of life for those of us most adversely underserved by the current social order, and begin the vital work of establishing a foundation of our own agricultural industry and institutions.
Our urban farms will provide a safe place for peace and prosperity for our People, our children and our young adults to fellowship as they build a brighter future for themselves, their communities, and this world – all from the power of their hands, heads and hearts. Our rural farms will serve as the backbone of a nationally organized, collectively owned, independent, agricultural infrastructure operated, maintained and enjoyed by us.
Additionally, we open an entirely new industry with limitless economic potential in the center of the hood, and it’s owned, operated, and patronized by those who are its residents. We hope you will join us in bringing this vision to victory as a new basis for social life to your neighborhood.