I am Brielle Wright, a facilities service technician with APHIS’ Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services in Raleigh, North Carolina. Both sides of my families were heavily involved in agriculture. As children we loved being in the garden planting cucumber and cantaloupe. Our great-grandmother, now 103, had persimmon trees, pear trees, pomegranate bushes, and grape vines. We raised pigs, cows, and chickens.
Our land was a connection to our past, a way to bring our community together, and a path to sustaining ourselves. My great-grandfather owned a significant amount of land in downtown Elizabethtown, NC. Before he died, my great-grandfather sold some land to other African American families. He wanted them to build their own homes and be able to say, “I started something for myself.” He kept 11 acres, property where my great grandmother lives and my sister and I grow produce for our business.
When the pandemic hit last year, my sister and I decided to start producing our own food and sharing what we could with our community. We started The Farmers B.A.G., which stands for Black, Abundant, and Gifted. Part of what we do is educational—distributing knowledge and sharing resources for those interested in farming. We want to help underrepresented groups reclaim their connection to the land. Part of our dream for the business is to supply fresh, healthy, local produce to underserved communities. This year we are hoping to work with a community-supported agriculture box program.
I think many people perceive Black farmers as being nonexistent. But there’s a shift that’s happening. Black and Brown people understand that the land provides when you work it. It can provide a living. It can provide a fresh perspective. It can represent new life.