Saturday, February 1, 2014

Agriculture, Blueberries, and Black History

"I see farming as a business, not a lifestyle. I'm talking about a good living for the farmer, maybe even a Caribbean vacation once in a while."

In honor of the beginning of Black History Month, College Go Green and Brilliant Changes went to visit the Shady Grove Road Blueberry Patch and to finalize their choice for the site of the Tuskegee Biogas Technology Project.  The property has a beautiful two acre blueberry farm where "the berries are deep blue and the birds are always singing."  

In the 1980's Dr. Booker T. Whatley, Tuskegee University Professor, began to create his model for a small farm that could earn $100,000 using sustainable practices.  He was nationally renown for his expertise on small farms and was frequently featured in agriculture magazines to help advocate for earning revenue by living in balance with nature.  He believed in more than just subsistence farming, he wanted the small farms to be profitable.  This was back in the 80's and the Green Movement of today had not established its momentum.  Rural America, particularly Black Rural America, was still a place were many people from the South developed a relationship with nature.

Mrs. Gbadamosi showing her pride in her work
In 2010 the dream was passed to an unlikely visionary, a humble mother of four with no prior farm experience, Mrs. Josie Gbadamosi.  Affectionately called Mrs. Josie, she migrated to Tuskegee in 1969 from California.  She felt a calling for the property one day while picking berries from the patch that had not been maintained for some years. After retiring she decided to purchase the property and to pick up where Dr. Whatley had left off, equipped with nothing but a dream and some common shed tools.  Her entire story was featured in Minority Landowners, click here to read the full story.

Phil Stringer and Ashley Ware examining blueberry plants 
College Go Green is honored to be a part of this legacy and hopes to make a long stride forward in achieving the dreams of Dr. Whatley and Mrs. Josie.  These are two examples of African American visionaries and during this month we want to highlight their character and compassion as College Go Green establishes itself as a provider of knowledge at Tuskegee University.  We are committed to providing support for community growth.  This partnership with Shady Grove Blueberry Patch is only a continuation of the hard work done in the past to empower black landowners in a country where the competition favors  larger and more mainstream agricultural enterprises.