“Growing Farmers, Growing Food” Restoring Agriculture and Food Pathways in Orangeburg, SC - Ms. Georgia Good and Mr. William Booker
Ms. Georgia Good, Vice Chair of the Rural Coalition and Director of the Rural Advancement Fund (RAF) , co-presented with Mr. William Booker, RAF’s Farm Educator at the Rural Development workshop. Ms. Good explained that “intergenerational reciprocity” or responding to the simultaneous need of kids to be engaged and of young farmers to be mentored is the foundation of “Growing Farmers” projects.
Mr. Booker contextualized RAF’s emphasis on both the transfer of farming knowledge as well as the transfer of farmland to a new generation. The lack of available land is compounded by the shift to large industrial farming, and increasing corporate ownership. The historical recognized lack of access to credit for people of color, women and other marginal groups pushes farming further out of reach. RAF helps elders who own small farm holdings with “succession planning,” to enable the land to change hands. This requires clearing settling any prior heir-property issues and securing titles.
Mr. Booker explained that RAF’s curriculum for young farmers is a “values based education,” teaching small vegetable production, money management skills, and the agricultural roots of their rural economy. He ended with a story illustrating the significance of RAF programs introducing children to the outdoors through farming. He described the amazement of a young boy, who went home with a soil-covered carrot in his pocket and a newfound knowledge of how food grows-- a potential young farmer!
Ms. Good reminded everyone that growing farmers in one of the most impoverished communities in the US has a number of impacts well beyond increasing access to healthy food. Providing stipends for participating young farmers is integral to compounding these impacts. She concluded: “This is how we envision food sovereignty.”