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BIPOC Farming Network in Ohio gains independence, empowers marginalized farmers

A sunflower field at a Clinton County farm.
Alejandro Figueroa
A sunflower field at a Clinton County farm.

The BIPOC Farming Network began under the umbrella of the Agraria Center for Regenerative Practices nonprofit in Yellow Springs, although operations there are suspended due to a financial crisis. Now, the fledgling regional resource is becoming an independent entity.

The BIPOC Farming Network provides training, education and community for historically marginalized farmers in Ohio and more broadly, the Midwest.

With the network gaining its independence, It’ll be led by other Black, Indigenous and people of color. Something Patty Allen, the program manager for the network, said is really about empowering communities.

“It's kind of rooted in an identity that we as BIPOC people need to lead our own initiatives,” Allen said. “It's not just farming operations, it's really food sovereignty work, access to food, and food justice that the BIPOC Farming Network supports.”

Allen added the network's mission as an independent entity doesn’t change.

“Historically, we have been at a disadvantage, particularly with the practices of the USDA in the past,” Allen said. “So one of the biggest focuses that the BIPOC Farming Network provides is support in terms of education, professional development, and letting particularly new and emerging BIPOC farmers know that they have a place where they can be supported.”

The network is now in the process of applying for nonprofit status. It has secured grants and funding independent of Agraria such as the 365 Project in Yellow Springs, Hall Hunger Initiative, the Nature Conservancy, Central State University Extension and the Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education.

It will also resume its programming, including its virtual round tables and the Black Farming Conference later this fall.

The network is also launching its 2023 Policy Fellowship Program — a six month program for beginning, small-scale and urban farmers from the Dayton, Springfield, Cincinnati area focused on public policy at the local, state and federal level and growing their operations.

For more information, email BIPOC FarmNetwork@gmail.com

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943