Deep Rooted History of Freedom Farms in America and Sacramento

By Aaris A. Schroeder July 16, 2011

Arriving to the garden on 4th and 39th Ave. in Oak Park, one of ten other “Freedom Farms,” I see Program Manager Kory Grant Clift making three fresh new beds for summer time vegetables and pulling weeds from around a varietal of lettuces. Clift explains to me that there are three major influences that helped him and his partners start Freedom Farms in Sacramento, CA.

The Freedom Development Group was born from F.B.C. and thus was born Freedom Farms, one of seven other community-related services that are offered to the Sacramento region and beyond.

Another influence was Mama Jaseriah Freedom School, which was taught out of the Wo’se Community church, who believes it is best to work together for community unity within the teachings of Africa extend to truth, justice and righteousness. Mama Jaseriah’s educational courses were a sort of “Saturday-School” and were taught by community members. The Wo’se has connections with The Global African Presence, African Americans for Balanced Health and The Black Panther Party.

At this point in the interview with Clift, I feel rest assured that he is a man who knows his path in life. He is here to work within his community, to educate by teaching farming. Freedom Farms helps to educating teachers, parents, community leaders to empower themselves and youth with farming and healthy eating.

A young African-American man is on the other side of the fence in the church school yard, tending to a garden. Clift stops talking to me and gets up to address the young man. He tells me to follow him so I can see his garden. I am introduced to 18-year-old

“Hard workers keep their hands dirty,” Clemons exclaims with great energy. Then he goes about his way.

Less than one percent of all farmers are African-American owned, this is a fact. It is also a fact that Freedom Farms is the only non-profit black-owned farm and local garden service in the entire Sacramento County. Clift says that there are other African Americans out there that farm, that want to create a similar program but that there is systematic racism in the system that has held his non-profit back from receiving grants and other, mainly white-owned co-operative gardens the opportunity to reap the benefits of a plentiful harvest.

“We’ve been [active] for six or seven years. Due to technology and the system of capitalism and exploitation, [African-Americans][ have turned away from working the land. Now there is a rebirth and that is important for [the] economic condition we are in,” says Clift.

At one time, Freedom Farms had 30 active gardens and then Grant went to Humboldt University and received a Masters in Social Science with a focus in New Urban Ecology. He was able to use educational facilities to test and create urban rejunification.

Clift says that he does not support the planter box mentality, rather for just $100, he and his team will come to your property and install a 10X10 garden. He also states that they work with a variety of people with different interests, ethnicities and situations. He is working state-wide and works within programs in the Bay Area and Davis, CA and the Native American College. Freedom Farms also helped support a perma-culture certification with the Regenerative Design Institute.

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“Through Agriculture and eating healthy, we can improve test scores and overall improvement in students,” according to Clift who also says it only costs three dollars a day to feed a child at school.

Through the CA Department of Education, Health Services and Food and Agriculture there have been educational models that connect schools to farms.

According to Clift there are meetings that parents can attend even though they aren’t necessarily invited to. Clift calls this systematic racism since groups of parents from specific schools are discouraged from getting involved. He says that he has experienced this first-hand and has worked hard to get where he is at with his non-profit and will not stop.

In ’05, Clift received a grant from Health Education Council in which Freedom Farms created their own curriculum with community members to work with other community members and the youth to create sustainable gardens and eco-systems.

He currently teaches Agriculture 101 at American Legion High School and participates in the Farm Stand Project that works to teach youth leadership and useful job skills all while running several local urban farms and working with Healthy Foods Task Force.

“We have been growing for five years with no help from the Oak Park Neighborhood Association only help from individuals such as Community Pride,” says Clift.

There are several other programs that have been developed in conjunction with Freedom Farms and the Freedom Development Group, Inc.

Freedom Farms – Agriculture (Thesis project)

Freedom Transport – Automotive/ Transportation

Freedom Flowers – Women’s Empowerment and Young Mothers Support Network

Freedom City – C.H.E.F. Model (Clothing, Housing, Energy and Food) Venture in Sustainable Living

Freedom Life – Music, Theatre, Art, Dance

Freedom Movement – All of the FDG Network (Business partners, sponsors, supporters, contacts, relationships)

Freedom Academy – The FDG Learning Process (How we make it all happen and train and educate along the way), Saturday Scholars

For more information visit Freedom Farms

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