The Black Farmer Fund is setting out to change this fact. They are an organization actively working to strengthen the Black food business system through building a more equitable future and striving for community power and community wealth. They believe Black farmers, business owners, and land stewards should be treated equally and benefit from financing, intellectual capital, technical assistance, networking, and public policies.

In 2021, the USDA rejected direct loan applications for 42% of Black farmers, a five-year high. Only 9% of White farmers were denied loans in 2021.

The Black Farmer Fund aims to provide supportive capital to suit the actual needs and reality of the Black farmers who need it. Giving them an alternative to the traditional financial options in order to help Black businesses grow and thrive. By providing 1:1 support through coaching and technical assistance, the fund is working to ensure that loan terms are specific to what the Black businesses need.

Functioning as an investment vehicle that provides capital built around individual needs to Black food businesses in New York State, the Black Farmer Fund centers Black farmers, business owners, and land stewards in funding decisions, utilizing a collective decision making process with a community led investment committee. The Black Farmer Fund serves as an investment vehicle creating space for community members with varying levels of wealth to invest and provide assistance where it is needed. The goal being to increase the number of Black farm and business owners and create a strong network for these folks to collaborate across the food system and move away from historically ingrained attitudes of scarcity and adopt an abundance mindset.

The idea to create the Black Farmer Fund came from two Black farmer activists, Karen Washington and Olivia Watkins, who met at a conference in 2017 and shared the same frustrations about the lack of financial assistance available for Black farmers. They decided that there was a need for community members to be able to access capital that recognized the historical discrimination of lending and banking that informs the present reality of Black communities.

For Black History Month, Curaleaf has chosen to help support the Black Farmer Fund by donating $100,000. We’d love for you to join us and do your part to help Black Farmers plant more roots by rounding up your purchases to the next dollar, and donating the difference.

We need farmers like Ann Sutton and her Deep Roots Farm located in Brandywine and Upper Marlboro, MD to continue to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers, and raise chickens on her 50 acres. As a women owned and operated farm, Ann offers a holistic approach to farming that encourages innovation and improvement of environmental, social, and economic measures. Ann is building a sustainable farm that she believes contributes to the future of farming while also being a place the community can gather and thrive. It is important that we don’t lose people like Ann and other Black farmers who are striving for new innovation and community simply due to funding.

Ann Sutton and her Deep Roots Farm located in Brandywine and Upper Marlboro

We also recognize there are hardships for Black business owners within the cannabis industry. Black cannabis farmers and entrepreneurs face extreme difficulties with opportunities to get their foot in the door on a national level, but none more so than the current situation in Florida. None of the state’s 22 licenses to grow and dispense medical marijuana are currently held by a Black-owned business and the application fee for Black farmers has more than doubled from the $60,830 paid by other license holders. While we might not be able to have a direct impact on these Black business owners and farmers in Florida right now, it is our hope through supporting organizations such as the Black Farmer Fund the progress needed will be recognized and an impact can be made on a national scale.

There is work to be done, but together with you and the Black Farmer Fund we hope to help Black farmers thrive and live a sustainable future.