By Stacy Moore
On a hot mid-August day, the Ecological Education team and Tom Kaye traveled north to Black Futures Farm located at the Learning Gardens Lab in southeast Portland, Oregon. Our aim was to lend a hand to Black Futures Farm, which grows food, builds local stewardship, and promotes Black food sovereignty. We were also saying goodbye and wishing well to Mirabai Collins, who until recently worked with Institute for Applied Ecology teaching plant cultivation and conservation at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
Upon arrival, our team was greeted by Collins, who is co-founder/co-director of Black Futures Farm and Malcolm Shabazz Hoover, also co-founder and co-director.
While standing in the shade under a white canopy, Hoover sketched out the background of the farm and explained the farm’s goals and aims. “Black Futures Farm is working towards restoring Black people to the land,” he explained. “Today, Black people make up only a small percentage of people owning land, and our goal here it to help people use this land to produce food to feed their families.”
Black Futures Farm is part of a Black-led national group, the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, which strives to provide culturally relevant food to Black community members, while supporting people to be in control of their own food supply.
Collins followed the introduction with a tour of the 1.15 acre farm where our group admired collard greens, pole beans, squash, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, tomatillos, lettuce, flowers, cooking herbs, and a variety of fruit trees.
The Ecological Education team was quickly put to work, with Tom set to weeding around the base of blueberry bushes and Tyler Knapp, Dionne Mejia and Stacy Moore picking tomatillos. “The vegetables we pick today will be put into approximately 40 Community Supported Agriculture food boxes for our local families,” said Collins.
IAE staff enjoyed the camaraderie of Black Futures Farm staff and volunteers as we joined together to weed beds of collards, peppers and broccoli. "It was great to work and hang out together at the farm on a beautiful summer day,” said Tom Kaye, IAE Executive Director. “Food connects everyone, and we look forward to the many successes of Black Futures Farm as they grow and thrive.”