Resilience and Food Security in Black Belt Alabama through Land-Based Cooperative Economics and Communal Landholdings
PROJECT SUMMARY: In the Black Belt South, African-Americans struggle with enduring economic isolation in seemingly barren spaces that are the relics of resilient communities built from a traditional knowledge that normalized cooperative structures and community institutions. The proposed study uses a lens of community resilience to capture patterns of traditional knowledge woven into the area’s culture surrounding health, food provisioning, and cooperative economics. This study is unique in that it will focus on health, health equity, and the Culture of Health by connecting production agriculture, landownership, and cooperative development to traditional knowledge. The proposed study will serve as the foundation for an emergent communal network that promotes a thriving local sustainable food economy through the following community resilience metrics: (1) advances the regeneration of traditional knowledge, the legacy of subsistence farming, and production agriculture among next-generation farmers; (2) stymies the epidemic loss of Black-owned farmlands and provides long-term land access to next-generation farmers; and (3) promotes community health through cooperative economics, farming, and alternative land-based enterprises. Our proposed research project will utilize various community-based participatory methods (personal interviews, focus groups, listening sessions, archival collections, land records, social network analysis, etc.) to identify the resources within a geographic subset of the Alabama Black Belt region to create and implement replicable community-centered solutions.
[Pictured from Left to Right]
- Tracy McCurty, JD, Executive Director, Black Belt Justice Center, Washington, D.C.
- Marcus Bernard, MS, PhD, Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, Epes, Alabama
- Veronica Womack, MPA, PhD, Professor, Chief Diversity Director, Georgia College, Milledgeville