Nicol Ragland
3 min readOct 15, 2020


After over two decades of documenting stories on the environment and human rights, I’ve come to learn just how powerful the Regenerative Food Movement is and that ‘TO FREE OURSELVES MEANS TO FEED OURSELVES.’ ~ Leah Penniman

The number of black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889. Today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black.They own a mere 0.52% of America’s farmland.By comparison, 95% of US farmers are white.

The black farmers who have managed to hold on to their farms eke out a living today. They make less than $40,000 annually, compared with over $190,000 by white farmers, which is probably because their average acreage is about one quarter that of white farmers.

Enslaved Africans created close to $10 trillion of wealth. Reparations for this wealth in the form of money, land, and other resources are necessary to achieve equitable conditions for Black and Indigenous communities in North America. A reminder that moving forward requires not just material investments, but also a system that rejects settler-colonial capitalism, resource extraction, and land abuse.

We all live in an exploitative food supply chain that has been working overtime through the pandemic. Outbreaks among racialized and migrant food supply workers account for some of the worst instances of coronavirus spread in Canada and the United States, and Donald Trump’s executive order deeming slaughterhouses essential businesses is a demonstration of violent policy in food supply.

The good news is that the numbers of black farmers are increasing on both farms as well as ranches.

In 1920 there were close to 1 million black farmers with 15 million acres which equals 14% of farms in the nation. In 1982, there were only 30,000 black farmers equal to 2% of all farmers. In 2012 the number of black farmers had increased to 44,000 black farmers or 15% of all farmers.

Just a few miles south of me are several folks creating an autonomous food zone out of a small town called SPENCER. The group facilitates ‘a generation of lasting solutions to a wide variety of social problems including poverty and unequal access to healthy food.’

They’ve created a cultural event where both merchant and consumer can interact within an environment reminiscent to the African American ‘down-home farmers markets that were once scattered throughout Oklahoma. The market features locally grown food products, cooking and nutrition classes, arts and storytelling.

Their efforts are stimulating the OKC Northeast economy, increasing access to fresh locally grown nutritious foods while promoting sustainability, preserving African American livelihood and supporting a healthy community.

To my Oklahoma pals, as we further the Black Lives Matter movement, we can also empower our local farmers towards economic stability and food sovereignty. You can learn more via THE F.A.R.M as well as NEOKC Farmers Market.

Grateful to you all for allowing me to share your story.



Nicol Ragland

Photographer . Director | Narrative-enhancing photography and film with an emphasis on cause-driven storytelling. |