PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Monday morning, Multnomah County launched a new Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares agricultural program in Troutdale. The farm will be managed by the black-owned farming company Mudbone Grown.
CROPS is an agricultural initiative created by Multnomah County and led by Jerry Hunter in 2009.
“Over the next 11 years, Jerry applied his skills as a farmer, coach and mentor to creating a fun, inclusive and calming environment for growing food and community, and inspiring people to learn along the way,” said Commissioner Lori Stegmann at the inauguration of the agricultural incubator.
After more than a decade of Hunter management, the farm is getting a makeover to promote culturally specific agriculture.
The USDA reported that only 3 farmers in Multnomah County are black; The Feed ‘Em Freedom Foundation reported that 18% of black families experience high food insecurity – a percentage three times higher than that of non-Hispanic white families.
The CROPS project intends to change these statistics, making agricultural opportunities and nutritious foods more accessible to BIPOC communities.
“Farming is a practice that is often passed down from generation to generation,” County Chair Deborah Kafoury said. “So if you weren’t allowed to own your own business or you weren’t allowed to own the land, then you weren’t able to get into the agricultural world and so that’s the one of the reasons we have so few black farmers in Multnomah County. We’re trying to turn the tide.”
Oregon has a history of ethnic exclusion. In 1850, the Oregon Gift Land Act was passed. This law explicitly stated that white male citizens were entitled to 320 acres and their wives were entitled to 320 acres.
The new project designed to counter this exclusion will be managed by Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers of Mudbone Grown. According to a statement, the Board of Commissioners has allocated $500,000 for the project.
“They are going to train and raise the next generation of black and African immigrant farmers,” Kafoury said. “They will teach the community the importance of having fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. In addition, the black farmers who will work on the spot will also be able to have economic development opportunities. »
Mudbone Grown, which began in 2016, was chosen to manage the facility after a competitive request for proposals process through the Multnomah County Health Department, which owns land throughout the county. In the app, Mudbone Grown talked about her farming practices, community benefits and plans for owning three acres.
The new CROPS farm at 1700 W Historic Columbia River Hwy in Troutdale will have community workshops, a community orchard where people will learn how to manage fruit trees and share the harvest and more.
“We are also considering donating to some local food pantries such as the Oregon Food Bank, our nonprofit Feed-em Freedom Foundation which has several food banks in East County, and doing more community engagement and education so people can learn how to grow for themselves and create food sovereignty for all,” Johnson said.
The main phase of construction is expected to be completed by mid-2023.