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Welcome to Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative

Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative is a groundbreaking collaboration making important strides toward rectifying historical injustices and ensuring a brighter future for Black farmers.

Agriculture has been a cornerstone of our nation’s growth and prosperity, yet Black farmers have faced systemic discrimination and unequal access to resources for far too long. The initiative promises an unwavering commitment to establishing a comprehensive and long-term program crucial to the future of farming. It presents a unique opportunity to address these disparities by providing support to uplift Black farmers and educate the public on the importance of diverse food sourcing.

By fostering economic empowerment and providing equitable access to resources and information, the initiative stands to transform the lives of Black farmers. Together, we can create a more equitable and prosperous future for the agricultural industry and all of us.

A message from Dr. Shirley Everett


Farmer in Field

William Scott Jr., Scott Agrilcuture LLC, Fresno, CA

Our Purpose

The United States was home to nearly 1 million Black farmers in 1920. Today, there are just over 45,000, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data.

This drastic decrease is a result of racial disparities, both past and present: Black farms are disappearing, and we urgently need to engage food system stakeholders to act now and preserve their legacies.

Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) is proud to collaborate with Black farms in the Bay Area and Central Valley through the Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative. We hope to expose Black farms to larger buyers and provide support to encourage their success while empowering foodservice purchasing departments to think local and support Black producers.

Shown in photo: Steve Gaskin Blue Ridge Ranch, Guinda, CA, Dr. Shirley Everett Senior Associate Vice Provost for R&DE and Senior Adviser to the Provost on Equity and Inclusion, William Scott Jr. Scott Agriculture LLC., Fresno, CA, Paul Gaskin Blue Ridge Ranch, Guinda, CA

Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) and Stanford Food Institute (SFI)

As Stanford’s largest auxiliary organization, R&DE supports the University’s academic mission by providing high-quality services to students, faculty, staff, and the greater Stanford community. We serve 25,000 meals daily and procure 11.4 million pounds of food each year. R&DE uses research and innovation to identify and develop best practices with a commitment to sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging while sharing these findings across the foodservice landscape.

The R&DE SFI was created to drive meaningful change in food systems through programs such as the Black Farmers Purchasing Program and the Collective Impact Initiative. We aim to use this purchasing power to address challenges in the food system.

Farms to Grow, Inc.

Co-founded by Dr. Gail P. Myers and Gordon Reed in 2004, Farms to Grow, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fostering Black farmers and underserved sustainable farmers nationwide. The organization empowers them to keep their farm operations and establish farming as a viable career for future generations. Farms to Grow, Inc., is dedicated to sustainable farming and innovative agricultural practices to preserve cultural and biological diversity to those in the farming industry who identify as Native American, Hispanic, women, physically challenged, and limited-access organic farmers, among other underserved populations.

Equitable Harvest and Black Farmers Initiative Video
Farmers in a field

Elaine Smith Executive Director, Farms to Grow Inc., Donald Sherman, Jr. Sherman Produce Market, Kerman, CA, Donald Sherman, Sr. Sherman Produce Market, Kerman, CA, and Rubin Luar Sherman Produce Market, Kerman, CA

Our Roots

In 2020, R&DE’s Stanford Food Institute (SFI) partnered with Farms to Grow, Inc., to launch the Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative. The program aims to help overcome historical barriers by developing and sharing a scalable purchasing model.

With funding from Stanford’s Office of Community Engagement, this initiative designed and conducted research to understand the needs of Black farmers and the obstacles they face. This research resulted in the creation of toolkits for farmers and academic foodservice leaders.


We developed two toolkits as part of Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative: one to help Black farmers navigate the path to wholesale markets and another to help foodservice organizations diversify their sourcing through engagement with Black farmers.

Resources For Farmers

The Black Farmers’ Purchasing Toolkit is a practical guide to initiating and evaluating potential purchasing relationships and certifying farming operations for wholesale. We believe these resources will break down barriers and influence change in industry standards while carving a pathway of success for the next generation. The toolkit presents the opportunity for Black farmers to build the intergenerational wealth they were denied for so long.

Click here to access Resources For Farmers Toolkit

Resources for Buyers

The Black Farmers Toolkit for Institutional Buyers equips purchasing managers and dining directors at academic institutions to purchase from Black farmers. It provides tools to evaluate and improve their supply chain diversity and support more Black farmers over time through continued self-assessment

Click here to access Resources for Buyers Toolkit

Sun setting in a field


The Journey of Black Farming in America

In 1920, the United States boasted nearly one million Black farmers. Today, only 50,000 remain.

In 1865, after the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, the promise of forty acres and a mule offered hope for Black farmers to rebuild their lives and communities. However, the legacy of systemic racism, discriminatory policies, and economic exploitation has led to a significant decline in Black farming over the years, making it crucial for all food system stakeholders to support and uplift this community.

Supporting Black farmers is an essential step towards righting historical injustices and crucial for fostering resilience, promoting economic empowerment, and ensuring food justice. By standing in solidarity with these farmers, we can foster agricultural diversity, promote sustainable practices, and work towards creating a more equitable food system. Furthermore, empowering Black farmers with the necessary resources will strengthen rural communities and build a more just and inclusive agricultural community for generations to come.  

  • 1865 - Union General Sherman's Promise

    Promise of forty acres and a mule raises expectations for Black farmers' independence. President Andrew Jackson revokes the order, resulting in less than 1% of the promised land ever being distributed, forcing many to work as sharecroppers and tenant farmers, perpetuating cycles of poverty.

  • 1896 - Booker T. Washington and Dr. George Washington Carver

    Visionary leaders advocate for educating Black farmers on sustainable agricultural practices, soil fertility, and crop diversification at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

  • Early 20th century - Discriminatory Practices

    Discriminatory practices, including limited access to loans and assistance, impede Black farmers' ability to own and retain land, leading to a significant decline in their numbers.

  • 1910 - Nearly 25% of Black Farm Families

    Nearly 25% of Black farm families own their land, holding almost 20 million acres in the Jim Crow South.

  • 1916-1940 - Migration to Urban North

    Approximately one million Black Americans move to the urban North, reducing the number of Black farmers in the South and leading to a decline in agricultural production.

  • 1933 - Agricultural Adjustment Act

    The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 and other New Deal programs exacerbate land loss for Black farmers as they often receive fewer benefits compared to white farmers due to discriminatory practices.

  • 1965 - United Farmers Organization

    Founded by Newt Perry, the United Farmers Organization sought to unite Black and white farmers in the struggle for economic and political justice, challenging discriminatory agricultural practices.

  • 1966 - National Black Farmers Association

    John Boyd Jr. founds the National Black Farmers Association to represent Black farmers' interests and to fight for equal access to agricultural resources, government programs, and loans.

  • 1969 - National Sharecroppers Fund

    Established by Black civil rights activists, including Hosea Williams and John Lewis, the National Sharecroppers Fund supports Black farmers and sharecroppers through direct aid and advocacy.

  • 1970s - Continued Challenges

    The number of Black-operated farms continues to decline due to ongoing challenges, including discriminatory lending, land loss, and the shift from small-scale family farming to large-scale agribusiness.

  • 1982 - Federation of Southern Cooperatives

    The Federation of Southern Cooperatives launches the Save Our Lives (SOUL) campaign, a coalition of civil rights and farmer organizations that advocate for land reform, farmworker rights, and access to resources for minority farmers.

  • 1990 - Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act

    The Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 includes provisions to address the historical discrimination faced by Black farmers by providing increased access to credit and technical assistance.

  • 1997 - Pigford v. Glickman Lawsuit

    A group of 400 Black farmers sues the USDA for discrimination. The Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit provides a glimmer of hope with a $1 billion settlement for Black farmers, but the compensation proves inadequate for most to recover fully.

  • 2010 - Additional Funding

    Additional funding is allocated to Black farmers, acknowledging the need for redress, but challenges persist in achieving full justice and restoration.

  • 2021 - Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act

    The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act aims to provide $4 billion in loan forgiveness to Black farmers, recognizing the systemic barriers they face. However, subsequent legal obstacles limit its implementation.

  • 2023 - Justice for Black Farmers Act

    Ongoing efforts like the Justice for Black Farmers Act are reintroduced, seeking to address historical land loss and discrimination, offering hope for a more equitable future.



Farmers and Partners


Left to right:   
Diane Mavica, Associate Director, Vendor Management & Contracts     
Residential & Dining Enterprises Stanford University

Elaine Smith     
Executive Director Farms to Grow, Inc.

Steve Gaskin – Farmer     
Blue Ridge Ranch

Paul Gaskin – Farmer     
Blue Ridge Ranch

Shirley J. Everett, Ed.D., MBA      
Senior Associate Vice Provost for Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises  
Senior Adviser to the Provost on Equity and Inclusion  
Founder, Stanford Food Institute  
Co-Founder, The Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

Will Scott Jr. - Farmer     
Scott Agriculture

Eric Montell     
Assistant Vice Provost for R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries

Equitable Harvest and the Black Farmers Initiative is a collaboration between

R&DE and Farms to Grow Logos