As a predominantly Black-led project in a historically Black neighborhood, Southside Community Farm seeks to prioritize the needs of Black people and other community members of color and to celebrate diverse cultures and foodways. Land has long acted as the “scene of the crime” (Leah Penniman, Farming While Black) for people of color in the U.S. and in the Asheville area, from the violent history of slavery and sharecropping, to the forced removal and genocide of indigenous peoples, to the victimization and exploitation of predominantly Latinx farm workers. SCF aims to reconnect BIPOC with land and food in ways that feel generative, consensual, and joyous. Equity can only exist when BIPOC and low wealth communities control their own destinies. Our mission is not only to feed people, but to co-create a web of food sovereignty in which community members have tangible power over their local food system. This mission includes creating and supporting avenues of education, climate resilience, food access, seed sovereignty, small scale economic viability, and more.
For eight years, Southside Community Farm has been a BIPOC-centered space for neighborhood residents to enjoy healthy food and to connect with nature and each other. Physically, SCF exists as a 0.36 acre urban plot behind the Arthur R Edington Center with raised garden beds, farm production rows, fruit trees and bushes, and a pavilion. SCF also tends a 0.1 acre apple orchard across the street from the Edington Center in front of Erskin Apartments. As part of a neighborhood struggling under food apartheid, we focus not only on welcoming our community into the farm space but on “bringing the garden out of the garden”, in the words of our elder and co-founder Roy Harris. Thus, we work to interconnect the farm with our community and to bring food justice out of the farm space and directly to the people. To build food justice, we strive for true accessibility.
Programs of SCF include a monthly Southside Farmers Market of all BIPOC vendors, a free food fridge and pantry stocked with fresh produce, agricultural business and environmental justice programs for local youth, monthly community dinners, BIPOC-only garden days for people of color to enjoy the outdoors together, herbal medicine making with workshops and free distribution, and a variety of food donation programs partnering with organizations such as Manna Foodbank and the Southside Kitchen. SCF focuses on growing food sovereignty, celebrating our unique and diverse cultural foodways, and building a resilient future together.