As reported in the 2017 Farm Census, there are two million farms in the US, but only 35,470 of those are owned by blacks. In West Virginia, military veteran farmer Jason Tartt is trying to change that. Tartt grew up in the state and remembers how black people in his community used to be farmers. However, as the Mountain State’s black population has shrunk — a result of declining coal-mining jobs — much of West Virginia’s fertile land has been overlooked. For Tartt, farming is a way to build a sustainable agricultural economy while empowering other black people. In addition to cultivating the land with orchards and beehives, he started a farm with the late farmer Skye Edwards, partnered with West Virginia State University’s Extension Service to create a program for black and brown farmers, and then founded the nonprofit American Youth Agripreneur Association to develop young black farmers. Read more about Tartt’s inspirational work and farming redevelopment efforts at Yes! Magazine.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Haddix/USDA