Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Black History Month spotlight – the Allensworth Progressive Association

As we continue to commemorate Black History Month 2024, it’s important to acknowledge the rich legacy of Black/African American contributions to agriculture, particularly in California. One endeavor that stands out is the transformative work of the Allensworth Progressive Association in establishing a teaching farm in the historic community of Allensworth.

The community, located in Tulare County, is implementing an initiative aimed at empowering beginning farmers in the Central Valley and Southern California. With the support of a $500,000 grant from CDFA’s Beginning Farmer and Farmworker Training Program, the Allensworth Progressive Association is utilizing these resources by laying the foundation for a program to provide aspiring farmers with access to essential resources like land and water, and also focusing on developing skills in sustainable and regenerative practices. The project aims to develop a 60-acre teaching farm.

The significance of this initiative extends beyond agricultural training—it is also a promising approach to community development and resilience. Allensworth, like many other marginalized communities, faces challenges such as food deserts and arsenic-contaminated water. Through the establishment of the teaching farm, the APA aims to help address these issues by fostering food security, promoting health and wellness, and revitalizing the local economy.

Central to the Allensworth mission is the legacy of leaders like the late Nettie Morrison, who moved there in 1979 and envisioned it as a thriving agricultural community. Today, Allensworth is establishing new pathways for Black farmers and youth to connect with agriculture.

“I like the idea of seeing a new age of farming, to see a new era of farming, a younger farmer, more ecosystem conscious—this changes everything,” said Tekoah Kadara, executive director of the Allensworth Community Development Corporation. “We can make growing food attractive again by connecting these channels, because we haven’t had ways to get food to our communities.”

The holistic approach of these programs, which include youth engagement and soil remediation efforts, indicates a commitment to intergenerational engagement and environmental justice. By integrating indigenous farming practices and advocating for food solidarity, Allensworth is not only cultivating crops, but also nurturing communities and fostering equity.

The Allensworth Progressive Association serves as an example of hope and possibility—a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of Black farmers and communities. Through collaborative efforts and a dedication to collective empowerment, Allensworth is poised to become a model for Black agriculture nationwide.

2023 Spotlight: Secretary Ross visits Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park — rich in history and looking to the future

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