Over the past 100 years, the number of Black farmers working the land throughout the United States has gone from one million to 45,000. In a new installment of our On America series, we honored Black farmers, their land, and their legacy by celebrating the launch of Natalie Baszile’s impressive anthology We Are Each Other’s Harvest. The book examines the crisis of Black farming through first-person narratives of both seasoned farmers, who continue the legacy of their ancestors despite rampant land loss and systemic discrimination, and younger farmers just beginning, who view farming and land stewardship as a way to address food justice, reparations, and more.
Baszile was joined in conversation by Marvin Frink and Melony Edwards, both first-generation farmers, as well as Clyde W. Ford (The Hero with an African Face), a prolific writer and recipient of the 2006 Zora Neal Hurston-Richard Wright Award in African American Fiction, and Michael Twitty, a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter.
We Are Each Other's Harvest
By Natalie Baszile
Published by Amistad
From the author of Queen Sugar—now a critically acclaimed series on OWN directed by Ava Duvernay—comes a beautiful exploration and celebration of black farming in America.
In this impressive anthology, Natalie Baszile brings together essays, poems, photographs, quotes, conversations, and first-person stories to examine black people’s connection to the American land from Emancipation to today. In the 1920s, there were over one million black farmers; today there are just 45,000. Baszile explores this crisis, through the farmers’ personal experiences. In their own words, middle aged and elderly black farmers explain why they continue to farm despite systemic discrimination and land loss. The “Returning Generation”—young farmers, who are building upon the legacy of their ancestors, talk about the challenges they face as they seek to redress issues of food justice, food sovereignty, and reparations.
These farmers are joined by other influential voices, including noted historians Analena Hope Hassberg and Pete Daniel, and award-winning author Clyde W. Ford, who considers the arrival of Africans to American shores; and James Beard Award-winning writers and Michael Twitty, reflects on black culinary tradition and its African roots. Poetry and inspirational quotes are woven into these diverse narratives, adding richness and texture, as well as stunning four-color photographs from photographers Alison Gootee and Malcom Williams, and Baszile’s personal collection.
As Baszile reveals, black farming informs crucial aspects of American culture—the family, the way our national identity is bound up with the land, the pull of memory, the healing power of food, and race relations. She reminds us that the land, well-earned and fiercely protected, transcends history and signifies a home that can be tended, tilled, and passed to succeeding generations with pride. We Are Each Other’s Harvest elevates the voices and stories of black farmers and people of color, celebrating their perseverance and resilience, while spotlighting the challenges they continue to face. Luminous and eye-opening, this eclectic collection helps people and communities of color today reimagine what it means to be dedicated to the soil.