Originally published in our February 2021 Newsletter
For this month’s S.W.A.G. spotlight we want to highlight the efforts of Dr. Gail Myers, Dr. Sakile Camara and Mama Ethel Jemila in their creation of Farmers Xchange, a platform dedicated to serving the needs and strengthening the networks of local farmers.
The seeds of Farmers Xchange were planted when Dr. Camara, then a chair of Communication Studies, was approached by a student who wanted to help farmer’s sell tea without losing the majority of their profit. Dr. Camara began designing a platform that would allow farmers to interact with each other, however she needed someone that could ensure that the platform was working for it’s intended population, saying “I wanted to make sure that I was operating with integrity and dignity”. That’s where Dr. Myers joined the project. Using her expertise as a Cultural Anthropologist she helped redesign the platform using “farmer language”.
From there the two former PhD buddies went to work filling out the missing pieces of the site, adding categories, creating questionnaires, and making it accessible to both farmers and consumers. Still though, something was missing. Enter Mama Jemila.
Through her work in agriculture, food, and food justice during a five year USDA Research Grant, Mama Jemila built an extensive network of the exact people that Dr. Myers and Camara needed to breathe life into their platform. Mama Jemila found that there is a genuine interest in our communities for agriculture and that this interest was not being nurtured. She was also able to connect with people and organizations with the same intentions. With their team in place, these three women were able to take Farmers Xchange from a dream to a reality.
Farmers Xchange exemplifies the need for Black people, specifically Black farmers to have spaces that are owned and controlled by the people that they are intended for. Using this site farmers can connect to consumers and each other directly, sell farm equipment, review news relevant to Black Farmers, find local farmer’s markets, and donate up to 1,000 towards a scholarship. Future plans for Farmers Xchange include a space for farmers to post internships, a forum, a chat feature, photo galleries, an Adopt-a-Farmer program, and a delivery service to deliver produce.
Farmers Xchange aims to be an instrumental force in reconnecting with rural communities, helping farmers receive fair compensation, fostering a love of agriculture in Black communities. If there are services or features that you feel would benefit Farmers Xchange do not hesitate to reach out.