Farmers of Color May Soon Get More Support in California (Civil Eats)
In an effort to address historic, systemic racism, two bills would support socially disadvantaged farmers, offering financial assistance, training, and more.
By Nadra Nittle, May 6, 2019
Abel Ruiz would like nothing more than to farm his own land, but he lacks the financial resources to make his dream a reality. Ruiz belongs to a Santa Ana, California farming cooperative called Community in Resistance for Ecological and Cultural Empowerment (CRECE), which farms on a half-acre of land that members lease on a month-to-month basis from a local church. This tenuous arrangement has led the group’s members to try to acquire a lot of their own, but they’ve encountered the same roadblock.
“We ran into this wall of bureaucracy,” Ruiz, 35, said. “The city won’t sell us land unless we have some form of financial backing, but funders won’t fund us unless we have some form of assets.”
Without investors or assets, co-op members find themselves at square one—working leased land they may not have access to the following month. CRECE’s agreement with the church could end at any time. “That’s not a strong foundation for any farmer,” Ruiz said.