The SFSS team set out to document Black farmers’ contributions to Indiana agriculture in the past and present time, and the historic and present challenges Black farmers face regarding equitable participation in the agricultural sector. Based on a literature review and pilot interviews with five farmers from around the state we developed a set of research questions to pose to a wider sample of farmers in the state. Supported by an IU Sustainability Research and Development Grant we investigated how academia, policy makers and, and other social networks can better address historical and present discrimination in order to support Indiana’s Black farmers and other Black individuals interested in careers in agriculture.
The project culminated in a StoryMap, presenting the accounts of ten farmers. The stories of each farmer are unique, yet tied together through themes of legacy, pride, disrimination, community, resilience, and conscious investment in future generations. By presenting the information gathered from our interviews in this multimedia format, our hope is that readers will have an opportunity to engage with it on a deeper level than through text alone, building a stronger connection to and understanding of Black farmer experiences.
The United States would not be where it is today without the sacrifice of Black farmers and their ancestors, yet despite their essential contributions to American society, like in many sectors, they have often been excluded from benefiting from the same privileges as their white counterparts. It is crucial that our country’s Black farmers be recognized for and supported in their work, not only for the health and prosperity of their communities, but for the sake of repairing the incomplete narratives we have been given, restoring justice, and for the cohesion and wellbeing of the United States as a whole.