Last October, Grow Dat Farm Fellow Alex & Sean, our Assistant Farm Manager, attended the Black Farmers and Urban Growers Conference in Durham, NC. Black Urban Growers (BUGS) is an organization committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. Read further to learn about Alex’s take on this experience.
B.U.G.S by Alex Sanders, Grow Dat Farm Fellow
My first thoughts of the BUGs conference was that it was going to be like a lot of other conferences that I have been to: mostly sharing knowledge, skills, and techniques on sustainable farming and gardening. A small amount would be about connecting back to the roots of black culture and the rest would be spent trying to connect with other farmers, eating, enjoying music and making sure to stay in touch.
Unfortunately, I was unaware of the true purpose of this conference. To me, this conference was about joining and embodying a movement that is already in play-- black farmers talking about ways to gain, keep and maintain land in the south including all the struggles that come with it like laws and the land itself. The most outstanding part was how powerful these black farmers were despite unfair laws that prevented them from doing certain things on their own land.
My favorite part of the conference was about black culture and connecting to its roots. I really enjoyed this half because I'm studying Rastafarianism and being in that space with other true Rastas and African people helped me think about who I am as a Rasta.
This part helped me to embrace my religion but it also showed me I was not alone. I don't connect with others who share my religion in New Orleans. There are many things I took away from that experience but the most unforgettable part was one single work “Ashay” a word used like amen and also known as a calling to the ones who came before us.