Partner Spotlight: Africulture
Africulture, a Virginia-based nonprofit, is helping farmers improve farming practices to increase their yields, markets, and sustainability through an Equity in Conservation cooperative agreement.
by Lynette Harmon, District Conservationist detailed to NRCS Outreach and Partnerships Division
Africulture is a Virginia-based nonprofit that helps farmers improve farming practices to increase their yields, markets, and sustainability. The organization highlights, explores, teaches, and enhances the principles, practices, plants and people of African descent that have contributed to agriculture, providing outreach and training to racial and ethnic groups in Virginia and throughout the country.
In 2022, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded Africulture a $205,361 Equity in Conservation Outreach Cooperative Agreement for their project, “Building Capacity for Virginia Historically Underserved Farmers,” which is providing farmers with educational outreach on the history and principles of natural resources conservation.
Africulture is conducting outreach activities and events, including Women in Farming, Juneteenth, and Black Farmer Field Days, we well as workshops on grant-writing, regenerative agriculture, and marketing, aimed at making underserved farmers in their communities aware of opportunities for assistance from NRCS and educate them on how to apply for NRCS programs. The organization’s main objective is to provide support to underserved farmers and guide them through the challenges of understanding NRCS programs and technical language while connecting them with conservation professionals within the agency.
Since the project began, Africulture has seen a marked increase in the participation of underserved farmers in USDA programs and services. Their efforts have also resulted in the successful formation of farmer cooperatives and greater participation in farm conferences.
One noteworthy collaboration is a partnership with Aramark Corporation and the University of Virginia to create a Black Farmer Fund. This initiative has provided a platform for Black farmers to find better markets and improve their profitability. Through this fund, Africulture has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing the economic stability of underserved farmers.
To honor and celebrate the contributions that African Americans have made to agriculture, Africulture organizes Juneteenth activities at their farm each year, highlighting the role of African Americans in Virginia’s agricultural legacy.
The organization plans to improve its outreach programs, ensuring that more underserved farmers and individuals interested in agriculture can benefit from their resources. Africulture also hopes to expand their partnerships with NRCS, universities, corporations, and community organizations, and to make the Farm Bill conservation programs available throughout the community.
The organization's future initiatives include raising awareness of its collaborative partnership with NRCS to promote NRCS programs and services. Africulture hopes to grow the interest of beginning farmers, veterans, and socially disadvantaged farmers, leading to increased representation and participation of minority farmers, thereby diversifying the industry and creating opportunities for economic growth among underserved communities.