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Kansas City Nonprofit Empowers Black Urban Farmers

Kansas City Nonprofit Empowers Black Urban Farmers

By Scout Nelson

In Kansas City, a transformative movement led by the nonprofit Kansas City Black Urban Growers (KCBUGS) is reshaping the landscape of urban farming for the Black community.

Founded by Dina Newman, KCBUGS began as a small group in 2011 and has grown into a vibrant organization with 85 members ranging from window-sill gardeners to multi-acre farmers.

The initiative stems from a need to address the lack of representation and participation of Black individuals in urban agriculture. Newman’s vision is rooted in the idea of food as a cornerstone of community health.

She emphasizes the entire food system, from seed cultivation to plant growth, aiming to create self-sustaining food systems that are not only healthy but accessible and affordable.

KCBUGS’s mission is particularly crucial in areas like Kansas City’s third district, where urban farms are plentiful but Black farmers are significantly underrepresented.

This gap prompted Newman to advocate for and establish platforms that support Black growers financially and through educational programs.

These include workshops on grant writing and agriculture techniques, helping to overcome barriers like land access and funding—challenges that have historically plagued Black farmers.

The impact of such disparities is evident from historical data. For instance, in the mid-1980s, out of $1.3 billion allocated for land acquisition by the USDA, a minuscule fraction went to Black farmers. This has had a lasting effect, with the number of Black farmers in Missouri dwindling drastically over the past century.

Looking to the future, Newman envisions KCBUGS not just as a support network but as a physical hub for on-site training in food processing, distribution, and the medicinal properties of foods.

The organization aims to honor and integrate the rich cultural heritage and agricultural techniques passed down from ancestors, fostering a deep connection to their roots and land.

As KCBUGS continues to grow, it represents more than just agriculture; it is a movement towards cultural revival, health empowerment, and community resilience. Newman's efforts ensure that Black urban farmers in Kansas City have the resources and support needed to thrive in an equitable food system.

Photo by: gettyimages-alexeyrumyantsev

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