Seeds Of Change - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

David Roach learned of the economic crisis facing black farmers while studying business finance at Morehouse College, but years later its far-reaching consequences hit him hard when he saw one of his high school students feeding her young child candy.

The experience led him to found The Familyhood Connection, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit organization in 1994. Today, the organization’s Mo’ Better Food Healthy Economics Campaign ( ) educates black consumers about nutrition and agriculture, and helps black farmers distribute their products to local schools, stores, and restaurants.

Independent, family-owned farming has been a vital earnings source for many black families, and its produce could address the shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables plaguing many urban communities. Strengthening black farming could also generate jobs in other areas of the food industry from planting and packaging to distribution and store ownership.

“If our communities don’t participate [in the food system], we’re going to continue to be fed inferior foods at high prices,” Roach says. “We’re going to miss out on jobs that relate to the food industry, unemployment will continue at alarming rates, and our communities will continue to see empty storefronts that could actually be grocery stores owned by African Americans.”

But what can consumers do to help? For starters, we can make a conscious effort to seek out black farmers and add their products to our diets. Mo’ Better Food runs a weekly farmers market in West Oakland and plans to open retail stores in April to give the neighborhood regular access to fresh foods.

The truth is black farmers are increasingly hard to come by. America’s 29,090 principal black farm op-erators represent only 1.4% of all U.S. principal farm operators. Jerry Pennick, director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives’ Land Assistance Fund, says that the black community must begin to look at land ownership as the key to economic development and independence before it’s too late.

“It would provide African American farmers with reliable and stable markets and it would provide the consumer with a low-cost quality product,” Pennick says. “Even more, it would keep African Americans in agriculture and help reverse the trend of African American land loss.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.