Eastern NC FaithLands

Many of the deepest injustices that we face as a society are embedded in land. Systemic racism, climate chaos, wealth inequality, food apartheid, and chronic illness are all rooted in broken relationships with land.

We need regenerative agriculture and racial justice to heal our lands and communities. That requires changing who has access to land. Today white people own 98% of the farmland in the US and people of color comprise over 70% of the farmworkers. Farmers’ primary struggle is gaining secure and equitable access to farmland, ninety percent of which is owned by non-farmers.

Making this land available for farming, developing faith-based land use partnerships, donating land to be held by a community land trust, restoring land directly to Indigenous communities and other communities of color, and creating ecological management plans are just some ways that faith communities can promote healing and justice.

FaithLands seeks to partner with faith leaders, farmers, land conservationists, racial justice organizers, and funders across the country to bring this work to life. We aim to spark a nationwide movement of faith communities using their land in new ways to benefit their communities and the Earth.

Is your congregation interested in making its land available for farming? Would you like to collaborate with FaithLands in some other way?

Pilot Project: 2019-2020

The FaithLands Eastern NC Pilot Project is led by a coalition including The Conservation Fund, F.A.R.M.S., Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Agrarian Trust. Our project goal is to support faith communities in making their lands available to historically underserved farmers including African Americans, Native Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, and women in addition to military veterans. We are doing this through the development of model processes for identifying faith-owned lands, conducting outreach to faith and interfaith communities, hosting workshops and gatherings, and providing technical assistance and support to faith communities and farmers.

Most of the farmers of color in NC are located in the eastern counties, where they have lost—and continue to lose—land and livelihoods due to multiple factors including racial discrimination and lack of access to large-scale markets. Eastern North Carolina is home to all of the majority people of color counties in the state. It is also the location of all ten of the persistent poverty counties.   Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, 25 of the state’s 28 persistent child poverty counties are in the east.. We aim to reduce the barriers to land access and markets, increase economic opportunities, and advance social justice.

The Conservation Fund is contributing their expertise and resources to identify faith lands in eastern NC that may be suitable for farming through GIS mapping and analysis, while the Eastern NC FaithLands Coordinator, Steering Committee, and partner organizations are assisting with on-the-ground networking and relationship-building. The FaithLands Coordinator will also organize a series of multi-faith and farmer informational and land matching gatherings.

The Coordinator seeks to identify eight congregations interested in making their land available to farmers.  She will work with NC-based community partners and the FaithLands NC Steering Committee to assist and broker land tenure relationships between these faith groups and historically-underserved or low-resource farmers, farm families and/or community organizations. To aid in this effort, we will explore possibilities for raising capital to help with land and farm equipment costs for beginning farmers. The inventory, outreach methodologies, and lessons learned supporting congregations and farmers will be shared with wider faith and land-access communities.

This project is generously funded by a Ministry Partnership Grant from the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is also made possible by generous in-kind support from our project partners.

Get in touch!

Josie Walker, Eastern NC FaithLands Project Coordinator, josie@agrariantrust.org

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