Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are you telling me that it’s possible to eat locally-grown produce AND support local Black farmers at the same time? Hold onto your hats, it’s true.
Although every month is the correct month to celebrate Black history, February is a month of particular focus on the topic. Marcus Henderson, the ecology expert behind the appearance of gardens in Cal Anderson park this summer, noted that farming and food autonomy has been a crucial element of liberation going back to emancipation — but Black land ownership has steadily declined over the last century.
The new gardens in the heart of Capitol Hill are a high-visibility means of drawing attention to the issue. And while we’re not experiencing the most crop-friendly weather at this time of year, there’s still plenty of opportunities to celebrate Black history in the act of gardening, producing food, and volunteering. And that can start just down the street at your closest farmers market.
Farmers markets tend to hibernate in the winter months, with most of Seattle’s vendors vanishing from October to June. But there are three that operate year-round (University District, West Seattle, and Capitol Hill); this month they’re honoring the work of The Black Farmers Collective, which runs a two-acre urban agriculture farm and connects Black farmers throughout Seattle.
The organization is comprised of a network of local food growers, educators, and eaters — so, in other words, all people have a stake in their work. Focusing on the principle of cooperative economics, the group runs Yes Farm in the Central District (a gorgeous patch carved out between the bike path and the freeway), Africatown Grow in Columbia City, and a four-acre farm in Woodinville northeast of Seattle’s urban center. Their mission: Eliminate food scarcity; undo the commoditization of the food industry with educational programs and growing space for the community.
One easy way to support their work is through Savor Seattle, a local food-box company that’s arranged boxes full of products from Black-owned food producers. Five bucks of every sale go toward the Black Farmers Collective.
(And of course, there are tons of other Black-owned businesses to support this month. Seattle Farmers Markets suggests Michael Pinckney, owner of Pinckney Cookie Cafe in Kirkland; and Donna Moodie, whose restaurant, Marjorie, is on Capitol Hill just down from Union and 14th.)
And if you’re truly ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work in the name of social, economic, and ecological justice, volunteer days at Yes Farm start this week and are every Tuesday and Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. “Bring your own work gloves and mask if you have them,” the farm says, and “come prepared to get muddy.”