Ty Schwoeffermann’s Story
My goal in life is to work towards the movement for food justice. I come from a small yet vibrant community of Black farmers in Portland, Oregon. After attending the Black farmers conference in New York in 2010, I dedicated all my time to developing a plan to reengages Black people in a noble historical tradition of farming. The most pressing thing I have learned is that Black farmers in the year 1900 owned and farmed over 14 million acres today that number is 1 million. There were many factors to this decline including, short selling land, migration to industrial job opportunities in the North, discrimination of the department of agriculture, and blatant racism in rural southern communities. Knowing this history I felt compelled to relearn farming, which was a skill that my grand parents in the Caribbean were masters of mostly indigenous organic methods.
I have dedicated the last two years to developing 3 garden and farm projects on very minimal budgets. In response to a call to action, this year I intend to dedicate more time to learning what it takes to scale up my growing projects. I have partnered with two African American female farmers.
My specific request to help our small scale farm succeed with a small infrastructure and capital investment.
1. 50ft X 20ft Hoop house estimated cost $1000.00 – due to the climate here in Oregon our outdoor grow season is very short. To be more efficient a hoop house would allow us to do nearly year round growing.
2. Weed dragon – (flame weeding tool) estimated cost $140.00 – this is an efficient way to kill weeds without destroying organic material.
3. Small reusable food package containers for the storage of food $300.00 – This can greatly improve the storage of organic food, adding days to their shelf life and making it more efficient to keep and transport food.
4. Modified Cooler conditioner – for a large food container – $500.00 – we plan to turn a small metal freight container into a large cooler for food storage.
Total request: $1940.00
The June Key Delta House and the Urban Harvest garden both located in a largely gentrified neighborhood on a property owned by the black organization Delta Sigma Theta and Urban League of Portland. These two projects have engaged hundreds of volunteers of all races in the surrounding neighborhoods. We are also building these garden to teach young people and learn from elders.
Ujamaa Farms is our newest project meant to be a small scale farm. It is located on 130th and foster which is an official food desert http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert/fooddesert.html. The project intends to bring organic food to the surrounding community through relationship building with local corner store markets and selling food within the current zoning code laws. We will open this farm up to community members to learn about small scale organic farming . We have a partnership with Zanger farms which is a local non profit to share educational resources.
Communities of color need to be engaged in farming. Ujamaa farms intends to promote the amazing experience of growing food to the surrounding community which has become more diverse over the last 10 years due to gentrification of the inner city.