By Rosemary Eng
For its 7th annual conference Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners (BUGS) is heading south for the first time to meet at Georgia State University in Atlanta November 10 to 12.
They will start by heading straight to the soil to see how several small farms in Atlanta are run.
The Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, partnered with Atlanta-based Wheat Street Baptist Church, will show how it grows food on a six-acre urban farm called Wheat Street Gardens. This has become a source of fresh produce for the “economically distressed” community in the area. They are clearing and developing another eight areas in southwest Atlanta.
Also being featured is the Fresh MARTA Market, a pop-up farm stand system which sells produce at select stations of Atlanta’s public transportation system (MARTA) for people who have difficulty getting to farmers markets. Not only do these pop-up farm stands accept conventional cash, credit and debit, they give double value to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) credit. SNAP used to be known as food stamps.
Groups will meet Haylene Green, who is making a living running a small farm specializing in tropical pumpkins, hibiscus sorrel and other fruits and vegetables from her native Jamaica.
Abiodun Henderson will describe how she’s training formerly imprisoned youth to farm, with the help of local farmers.
The second tour will be to Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, where experts from the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center and the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition will talk about southern history and the legacy of agriculture rooted in Tuskegee.
Conference sessions start November 11 with keynote speakers Shirley Sherrod, founder and executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute, Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, professor of community justice at City University of New York and Leni Sorenson, who will speak on the role of African Americans (free and enslaved) in American culinary history.
Participants will have a chance to discuss community health, farming techniques, agricultural policies and farm financing.
The entire conference program is available at www.blackurbangrowers.org .