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Nonprofit Sharing Our Roots helps BIPOC and emerging farmers access farmland

The program supports beginner farmers and farmers of color with land access and food security.

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — "This is my second year being in this farm, 'Sharing Our Roots,'" said Elkanah Abobo, a farmer in the program.

Abobo knows a thing or two about running a farm. It's in his family roots.

"I come from Kenya," he said. "My father was a farmer."

He's following in those footsteps all the way to the roots now growing on his half-acre plot. 

It's all part of "Sharing Our Roots," a food and agriculture nonprofit located on 100 acres of regenerative farmland in Northfield right on the Dakota and Rice County border.

"'Sharing Our Roots' supports beginner farmers and farmers of color with land access and food security," said Rocky Casillas Aguirre, the organization's executive director. "We have a cohort of 14 farmers on the land that are all starting their own farming enterprises and we also support six community gardens in the community."

Rocky is originally from Tijuana, Mexico, but was raised in Northfield. He says the program provides land access to farmers who may normally be excluded from the food and agriculture system.

"Land access is the single largest barrier for beginning farmers and farmers of color. When you look at our country, not just Minnesota, 98% of farmland is owned by white farmers," he said. "Part of our support system that we created here for farmers aside from land access, is also providing infrastructure."

For Tessa Parks, who is new to the program, farming is something that's always been on her heart.

"We raise bottle calves up to maturity," said Parks. "From there we're doing direct sells," she said. "My grandparents have been longtime gardeners, their parents were farming in Hawaii before that."

While the goal of the program is to support aspiring farmers, staff say the farm models itself is on regenerative agriculture and land restoration.

"The word regenerative is a new way to describe an old way of farming, an indigenous way," said Casillas Aguirre. "It's how Native Americans farm, it's how Kenyans farm, Hispanics farm, it's apart of who they are, their identity, their culture," he said.

They're hoping to heal the land one plot at a time through equity and innovation.

"They prepared for us a place to put our seeds, seedlings," said Adobo. "I learned a lot and helped the community."

Free farm tours are available on site. To register, visit the website here

Upcoming dates: 

Saturday, July 16th, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 13th, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 10th, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 8th, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

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