May 1, 2022
Denver-based nonprofit, FrontLine Farming has embarked on a land reparations campaign called Liberation by Land. The aim of this campaign is to raise enough funds to purchase a plot of land between 10 to 30 acres within 20 miles of Denver. Legacies of colonialism and the enslavement of African people are at the root of the disparities between BIPOC farmers and farmworkers relating to farm work and farm ownership. FrontLine Farming is addressing these disparities and will change the future of BIPOC farming and farm land in Colorado with their Liberation by Land initiative.
Today, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Farmers own just 2% of the farmland by acre in the United States but there are over 2.4 million agricultural workers in the USA, over 80% of whom are BIPOC. Different statistics tell the same story. BIPOC communities represent a quarter of the U.S. population, and yet only 5% of producers and 2% of the farm land, even as the percentage of BIPOC people grows in the US. The system must change and FrontLine Farming is leading the change. “FrontLine Farming refuses to accept the continued displacement of BIPOC farmers from the lands they care for. We know the worth of our work and are now focused on securing our future. This will enhance our ability to make transformative change by pursuing land of our own. Liberation by Land will enable us to acquire up to 30 acres of farmland with healthy soil to use in service of our communities,” says JaSon August, cofounder of FrontLine Farming.
FrontLine Farming is a BIPOC- and womxn-led nonprofit farm, and farmer advocacy and food justice organization that strives to create greater equity across our food system on the Front Range of Colorado. Founded in late 2017 by co-founders Fatuma Emmad, Damien Thompson and JaSon Auguste, they support and create greater leadership and access for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Womxn in food systems through growing food, educating, honoring land and ancestors, and direct action. Since its founding, FrontLine Farming has been rising to meet the immediate needs of its community. Through food production, food rescue, food donation and education, FrontLine provides opportunities for people of all ages to engage with farming and fearlessly advocates for equitable policy changes that address the institutionalized and legal forms of oppression that harm our communities.
In the years since FrontLine’s founding, they have leased farm land in Arvada, North Denver and South Denver. These relationships with their landlords have been valuable in growing their small nonprofit from a team of 3 to a group of 20 including 7 BIPOC seasonal farmers and adding value to the farming community through training their 2nd group of BIPOC apprentices this 2022 growing season. “Rented land comes with the understanding that we are not in control of our own future and that at any given time our livelihoods can be compromised. To secure a sustainable future for our community, we now seek to acquire land,” explains Fatuma Emmad, Executive Director of FrontLine Farming. “Our reasons for seeking ownership are not based on a desire to privatize or dominate. Rather, we pragmatically recognize that without secure land tenure, our entire land-based enterprise rests on the willingness of others to allow our work to continue. Real liberation for our community requires a place where we can honor our ancestors and uphold our culturally relevant foodways, feed our own futures, create localized economies that hold and share value in creative ways and eventually build generational wealth.”
FrontLine has a vision of coming back to the land and is ready to bring this vision to life. Acquiring the land that they envision requires moving money and resources. They are seeking support from their communities first and foremost. They also are asking philanthropists, local and national networks, and donors with financial means or land to offer to support this effort as a means of both reparation and liberation. “FrontLine Farming refuses to go into debt or to take loans to access land because it recognizes that many BIPOC landowners have lost their land, and in turn, their liberation, at the whims of creditors who prioritize over the common good,” says Dr. Thompson, cofounder of FrontLine Farming. “Instead, the community-based non-profit launches this campaign in the spirit of reparations and liberation. While FrontLine Farming will hold title to the land obtained via this campaign, it will open substantial parts of the land to collective use by members of the local BIPOC community.”
FrontLine identifies the following goals in their Land Campaign:
The land should also be valued equally to all members of the ecosystem who occupy it. By this, they mean land that has not been entirely stripped of soil biota, insects and wildlife. They intend to care for the land in a way that retains its ability to support both human and more-than-human communities.
The land will be used to grow food for BIPOC communities throughout the greater Denver area and as a place of education and healing.
The land would be owned by the organization, FrontLine Farming, but would also be open to collective use in their BIPOC community.
How you can help
FrontLine is asking for the support of their community in fundraising the money for this Land Campaign. If you are interested in contributing funds, you can donate to their Land Campaign here.
To share grant opportunities, gifting of discretionary funds, or the donation of land please email Frontline Farming Grant Coordinator Sydónne Blake at email@example.com.
If you would like to share and amplify information relating to the Land Campaign, you can follow FrontLine on their Instagram account @frontlinefarming and click on their Highlight labeled Land Campaign to view their shareable content.
Statistics to understand the scope of the systemic racism
BIPOC farmers across the US have been systematically and systemically excluded from access to land for centuries. While tactics have changed over time, the nearly complete transition of land stewardship to white landowning families and privately held corporations has been accomplished through the violent dispossession of indigenous peoples, outright intimidation and theft, widespread bureaucratic discrimination in the issuance of credit or participation in farm programs, and complicated legal regimes that disadvantage families of color, such as Heirs Property Rights. Largely landless BIPOC farmers have essential and undervalued roles in America’s agricultural past and present – they are descendants of Africans forcibly brought here, immigrants, refugees and peoples who have continuously offered their agricultural knowledge and skills to feed nations.
For more information, further quotes or interview requests please contact Sydonne Blake, Grant and Communications Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.