Author celebrates 'African American Farmers, Land and Legacy'
Throughout the last century the number of Black farmers in the United States has declined dramatically. The reasons are varied. The impact is great.
"It's really had devastating effects," said Natalie Baszile, author of "We Are Each Other's Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land and Legacy."
"It represents an opportunity to amass wealth, and then pass that wealth down to future generations," Baszile said during a visit to the Buffalo Go Green urban farm on Glenwood Avenue. Black-owned farms in the United States have declined 98 percent over the last century.
"There's a statistic that I read, that came out in 2017, that said, that if we continue on this path, by the year, I think it was 2030, the average net wealth for black people will be zero."
Baszile will also host an online session for the Western New York Land Conservancy during a busy visit to the region. Today, she's visiting the Providence Farm Collective in Orchard Park.
"I always draw a tremendous amount of inspiration from farmers, urban farmers, rural farmers, it really doesn't matter to me, because in order to farm, you have to have vision, and you have to have hope," Baszile said.
"And you have to be inspired, you have to have faith really, that you can really make something out of nothing."
Baszile's interest in Black-owned farms began during the work on her first book, the novel "Queen Sugar" . The story revolves around an African American woman who inherits a Louisiana sugar cane farm.
"I really wanted to write a story that told the story that we've not heard before, about Black people's connection to the land," Baszile explained.
The work resonated. Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay have transformed the book into a televisions series on OWN Network. It's in production currently on its seventh and final season.
Baszile was well aware that she was standing only two blocks from the Jefferson Avenue Tops where 10 Black people were killed on May 14. She also understands the policies that have made Buffalo one of the country's most-segregated cities.
"I also know that within this community, there are people here who are devoted and committed, and who really see the best in their neighbors. And who really seem to be devoting their lives to making Buffalo, a place that people want to live and where people can thrive, and where people feel a sense of hope and possibility."