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Why some black women try to defy the odds to own a farm

Clarenda Stanley has spent countless hours climbing the career ladder in the world of fundraising. So when she decided to ditch her keyboard for a shovel and seeds on her own farm, her family wasn’t entirely on board at first.

“They thought I had lost my mind at first, a few thought it would just be something cute like a little side hustle or hobby,” Stanley said.

Although she comes from a long line of farmers and grew up on a farm herself, she said her family always saw her white-collar job as a much better option than the pastoral life.

But Stanley wanted a change.

Clarenda Stanley.Courtesy of Clarenda Stanley

It was then that she came up with the idea for Green Heffa Farms, now a successful tea and herbal blend business, named after her quick-witted grandmother Charity Mae. . Stanley has been growing flowers, herbs, teas and other medicinal plants for the purpose of healing, on his own farm in Liberty, North Carolina, since 2018.

“Because of the trauma that’s been inflicted on the black community, the indigenous community, in terms of the land, a lot of us have lost that connection, and we don’t look to the land for some of the reinforcements that we have. we need for our well-being,” Stanley said.

“I really want him to…view agriculture as restorative, in the sense that it reconnects us to the land and does that through herbal medicine, which before there was all these pharmaceuticals, that’s what that we were using, that’s what we would look to.

Clarenda Stanley.
Clarenda Stanley.BNC News

Turning his vision into reality was not easy. By building her own farm, she got a crash course in the many obstacles black farmers face. Banks refused her loans and she said her agricultural instructors doubted her success.

It’s a recurring pattern for black farmers in this country, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has poured billions in recent years into discrimination settlements, admitting that black farmers have been blocked or barred from entering. in agricultural space without justification.

A study also found that black-owned farms were smaller, less profitable, and received less government assistance than other farms in the United States.

“Farming in this country was designed to benefit white men who owned property, preferably of the Christian denomination,” Stanley said. “I’m coming to an arena where it’s not equal.”

Stanley is among the less than 1% of black rural owners in this country. These statistics motivated her to bring other black women into farming to find their own source of healing and freedom.

She created a social media platform under the name “FarmerCee” to educate others on how to secure land, write grants for funding and share information on some of the challenges farmers face.

Stanley also said she can’t resist posting the occasional dance challenge or participating in viral trends on TikTok, which brings just the right amount of embarrassment and pride to her kids.

The consequences of America’s dark and complicated history with forced labor and agriculture are still being felt today, especially through longstanding barriers to generational wealth.

Clarenda Stanley on Green Heffa Farms.
Clarenda Stanley on Green Heffa Farms.BNC News

Stanley said she believes her energy and focus are better spent on her quality of life and the well-being of her community.

“I don’t expect America to get it right in my lifetime, and it’s not me who’s being pessimistic. It’s just to see where we are now,” Stanley said.

“I don’t even pretend to be able to offer a solution to a problem that those charged with carrying on the tradition of that problem don’t deal with,” Stanley added, “For me it’s more about how we create as much black joy as possible? That’s who I am. How can we have as many black people as possible, living lives that respect their value as human beings?

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