Did you know the SCNTR helped support the creation of the Local Farm Cooperative?
The Local Farm Cooperative was incorporated as a cooperative business in 2018 & is located in the Mill Village neighborhood of Selma, AL (at 300 ½ Wheeler Ave.). It is organized using cooperative economics, namely shared/democratic ownership & democratic control, & is committed to local food & fighting the general & racial wealth gaps.
Dedicated to fostering community resilience and sowing the seeds of transformation, the Local Farm Cooperative is fostering community through agriculture and a unified vision of racial equity. Led by a seven-person board of predominantly BIPOC residents of Selma, this cooperative has become an inspiring force for change in Selma.
Cultivating Tomorrow: The Local Young Farmers Program
In 2022, the Local Farm Cooperative received a game-changing grant from the Just Fund, setting the stage for a transformative initiative that summer. This grant served as a catalyst for the creation of a dynamic youth internship program that stood at the intersection of history, food, racial equity, youth leadership development, nonviolence, and American history.
The youth internship program was designed to be much more than a traditional farming experience. It was a holistic journey that provided young minds with invaluable insights into the rich tapestry of American history and the intricate web of social issues. Centered on the history of food, the program explored the roots of our culinary traditions, unearthing stories of resilience and innovation. It delved into the profound importance of racial equity, illuminating the pathways to justice and equality.
But it didn't stop there. The program was also a fertile ground for youth leadership development, nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. It instilled values of nonviolence and conflict resolution, empowering these young individuals with the tools to effect positive change in their communities. Two of the interns ultimately became Local Farm Cooperative board members and are involved in the farm’s governance.
Again in 2023, the Local Farm Cooperative demonstrated its commitment to nurturing the next generation of farmers and community leaders. Thanks to a generous grant from the National Young Farmers Coalition, this cooperative has directed funds towards work stipends for 14 young, black farmers. These budding farmers, aged 11 to 18 and predominantly young women, have played pivotal roles in various farming activities, from tending to planting rows and installing irrigation systems to mastering seed germination and managing farm affairs.
However, it's not just about farming; it's about life skills. The cooperative has embraced a holistic approach, promoting elements of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution. The ripple effect extends beyond the farm, with parents and guardians attesting to notable changes in behavior, from increased involvement at home to diminished fears and heightened enthusiasm for extracurricular pursuits.
In daily check-ins, when asked about their sources of gratitude, these young farmers often express profound appreciation for the farm and the privilege of being part of it.
Breaking Cycles of Adversity
Selma, Alabama, like many communities nationwide, grapples with the challenges of limited access to food (food apartheid), poverty, and violence. While the latest data may elude us, the Local Farm Cooperative serves as a testament to resilience and positive change. In the face of adversity, this cooperative is making tangible impacts on the lives of local residents. Connecting local people to the food cycle, increasing their access to fresh healthy foods, and providing people with jobs that pay enough so they can go beyond surviving in order to thrive are just some of the ways the Local is supporting the community.
Harvesting Dreams: Launching the Mobile Farmers Market
Now, prepare for some exciting news! In 2022, the Local Farm Cooperative secured a groundbreaking grant to propel the development of their Mobile Farmers Market, slated to debut at a harvest event this November the 4th. This initiative promises to bring an abundance of fresh, locally grown produce to the community, bridging the gap between farm and table. More than just a market, it symbolizes the cooperative's dedication to equitable access and community well-being.
As we eagerly anticipate this milestone, it's abundantly clear that the Local Farm Cooperative's journey is one of hope, resilience, and growth. Through agriculture, education, and community building, they are forging a brighter future for Selma, Alabama. Stay tuned for forthcoming updates as we celebrate their accomplishments and the promising future that lies ahead.
How to Get Involved
The Local Farm Cooperative has free Community Days every Saturday between 7am and 12pm at the Local Farm Cooperative located at 300 Wheeler Ave. Selma, AL, 36701. You can support the young farmers by donating to our fundraiser where every $10 you donate is one additional hour a young person can work on the farm. Click here to donate.
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For more information about the farm, or to be added to their newsletter, you can visit www.thelocal.coop or email email@example.com