There is a saying for African Americans wanting their chance at the American dream with their own land and home. Specifically 40 acres and a mule.
It wasn’t just a saying, but a historical order Gen. William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order 15, setting aside 400 thousand acres of land for freed slaves that was reversed after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
Fast forward to 2021: According to 2012 Census of Agriculture, African Americans make up less than 2% of all farmers in the United States.
Now, there is a husband and wife duo of Berry and Sons Produce who are going back to the basics of the American Dream as black farmers right here in Florida
For Karlin Berry, his fiancé and children, a typical day involved this 40 acre farm. They are growing cabbage, broccoli and at times sweet corn, peppers and potatoes.
“It actually feels great that me and my fiancé are growing our own crops as well,” said Berry.
But as an African American, family life on the farm is rare.
The 1920s, just decades after the end of slavery, there were 900,000 black farmers
According to the 2012 Agriculture Census there were only 44,629 black farmers in the United States, only 1.4% of the 3.2 million farmers in the country.
Berry’s father also worked in agriculture and now he’s following in his footsteps.
“Tradition and historically, because the decline has been huge from black farmers in the ’70s and ’80s to now, from starting the late to early 2000s its been a huge decline
There’s also been a history of discrimination against black farmers. One of the most well known cases, Pigford v. Glickman in 1999 against the United Stated Department of Agriculture.
The class action lawsuit on record, there has been almost $1 billion dollars paid or credited to more than 13,300 farmers under the settlement’s consent decree.
“So every seed that you saw in the field was placed inside one of these hoppers, so this is a four row planter, so pretty much input the seeds in side here and so they spit out at the bottom,” said Adrianna Campbell, the VP of Berry and Sons Produce.
Campbell, Berry’s fiancé, says it’s challenging being in farming but it’s been a rewarding challenge for them.
10 years, 20 years 30, 40 years, we are in it for the long haul,” said Campbell.
So for the many African Americans that are no longer in farming, this family hopes they will be apart of the resurgence.
If you would like to learn more about the farm go to bspfresh.us.