Fostering Sustainable Community With FarmerJawn

Christa Barfield of the Philadelphia-based community-supported agriculture initiative FarmerJawn tells us about the roots of the movement.

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by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: FarmerJawn

“As a Black woman in agriculture, I find it crucial to steward land responsibly and sustainably, creating a model that feeds, educates and uplifts communities while being environmentally conscious,” says Christa Barfield, founder of the Philadelphia-based FarmerJawn movement.

Headquartered on 128 acres, the community-supported agriculture initiative advocates for regenerative practices while aiming to reach out to underserved communities in a bid to encourage and empower people to begin their own farming adventures.

Taking a moment out from farming duties, we spoke to Barfield about the abiding goals of the organization and the importance of nourishing the community. We also got into the enduring joy of roasting beets.

From Martinique to Philly

“My journey into farming began with a life-changing trip to Martinique in 2018,” recalls Barfield, when recapping the path to starting FarmerJawn.

“After experiencing burnout in my career in healthcare administration, this trip opened my eyes to the beauty and simplicity of community-supported agriculture,” continues Barfield. “Witnessing firsthand how people were intimately connected to their food and the farmers left a profound impact on me. I returned to Philadelphia with a newfound passion to integrate these practices into my community.”

The FarmerJawn Mission Statement

Summing up the goal of FarmerJawn, Barfield says that the movement’s ambition is to “nourish marginalized communities with wholesome, organic food and empower the next generation of Black and Brown farmers.”

Breaking Down Urban Farming Barriers

Part of Barfield’s intention with FarmerJawn is to break down barriers that might prevent people living in urban environments from starting their own farming initiatives.

“In urban settings, there are significant barriers to growing food, like limited space, resources and knowledge about farming,” explains Barfield. “At FarmerJawn, we’re focused on making farming accessible in the city, offering education and opportunities in urban agriculture [and] thus bridging the gap between rural and urban farming experiences.”

Collards, Beets & Herbs

Casting an eye over 2023’s most bountiful crops, Barfield holds up collard greens, beets and herbs as the runaway winners.

“My favorite way to enjoy these is through roasting, especially with fresh herbs, roasted garlic and a touch of finishing salt,” recommends Barfield. “It’s a simple yet delicious method that truly highlights the natural flavors of the produce.”

Rewards Beyond Farming

“The most rewarding part of running FarmerJawn is the impact on the community,” says Barfield when weighing up the movement’s journey to date. “It goes beyond just farming. It’s about feeding people with nutritious food, educating young minds and being a catalyst for positive change in agriculture.”

Getting to the crux of the FarmerJawn goal, Barfield adds: “There’s a deep sense of fulfillment in growing not just food, but also a healthier, more sustainable community.”

Follow FarmerJawn at Instagram.

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