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Black Soil: Encouraging African Americans to reconnect to farming roots

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 21, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Black Kentuckians are working to reconnect to their heritage in farming after decades of African Americans leaving the occupation or being forced out.

According to the Community Farm Alliance, data shows Black farmers have been less likely to receive loans and government grants.

In Kentucky, only 1.4% of the state's farms are owned by Black people.

Kenya Abraham is a Black Muslim farmer in Kentucky. She and her family are one of less than 430 Black farmers across the state.

They run Slakmarket farm in Lexington, named after her four children, who all play a role on the farm, producing raw milk for human consumption and halal meat.

"My daughters are milking every day because it's part - that's who they are and also teaches them how to be responsible," said Abraham.

Her oldest, Kathem, plans to take over the farm one day.

"That's what regenerative farming is," said Abraham.

They decided to pack up and move from city-living eight years ago, to return to their farming roots after a health scare with her husband.

Learning to cultivate the land and raise animals through YouTube videos and advice from neighbors.

"I don't fear anything, usually. And so, if I feel it's important to me, I do it. And that's what we've decided. We're just going to do it," said Abraham.

They've farmed for eight years now, five of those years were spent in Lexington.

In addition to preparing healthy food for their family, they also operate a herd share of 75 owners to share raw milk and other animal products with. That's where Abraham connected with Black Soil, Kentucky's only agritourism company dedicated to reconnecting Black Kentuckians to their heritage and legacy in agriculture.

"I've received so much love and peace support from them and it's helped us so much because my products that I sell are illegal, you know, and so I can't just go and go to a Farmer's Market and it's set up," said Abraham.

"I've personally received a lot of resources from them just getting the word out about me and people knowing about me is usually through Black Soil."

Black Soil hosts events that educate and connect Black farmers to consumers.

Abraham says it's an art of African American roots that should be cherished.

"It's a part of us. It's a part of the African Americans in America. We Africans are agriculturalists by nature. That's why they brought us here," said Abraham.

They want to change the perspective of farming as hard work and slave labor to freedom and protecting culture.

"This is about producing community and making- bringing back the legacy that was already there, that's been covered," she said.

Black Soil and The Community Farm Alliance will host the first Kentucky Black Farmers Conference March 4- 6.