Posted on February 10, 2022
By Eboni Walker, Magaree Brown and Grace Herndon
“…Build a community where people know each other, not just the face, but the families, you know, and are able to trust each other…” – Dr Kinefuchi
Dr. Etsuko Kinefuchi is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Kinefuchi, along with Paula Sieber, started a project to create an urban farm in Greensboro. The project is led by GUFI, the Guilford Urban Farming Initiative. GUFI works with local groups to build communities and create urban farms. GUFI’s goal is to provide nutritional education and supply fresh produce for local neighbours that are in need.
Dr. Kinefuchi and Sieber, GUFI’s executive director, attended a state wide sustainability conference six months prior to applying for the grant from the UNCG-based National Communication Association’s (NCA) Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change that funds GUFI. GUFI participants have come together and created the St Phillip AME Zion Church Garden of Peace and Community Farm (The Garden of Peace). Volunteers and community members came together in efforts to establish and sustain the urban farm.
The purpose of the grant funding isn’t strictly to buy tools to help develop and design the farm, and to help develop the community building aspect of the farm. Access to healthy food is an important piece of maintaining community resilience, which is the exact purpose behind this grant funding, along with community building.
Dr. Kinefuchi herself grew up watching her parents farm different types of vegetables. She described the experience, saying “we were poor, but we were never hungry, so you know I grew up appreciating that”, sparking her appreciation for the urban farm.
The location of the farm is in a predominantly black community, where there is also a lot of subsidised housing. Besides the farm, GUFI launched a farmers market, the Grove Market, in this community to bring in largely black farmers from surrounding communities. This was important to GUFI because of a history of racism against black farmers. Black farmers have been discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture dating back to the 1920s by way of legislation, laws, and commissions.
These changes have caused a decrease in the percentage of black farms in the U.S., which ultimately affected their way of living (ewg.org). The produce at the Grove Market is coming directly from black farmers, and community members can have access to affordable fresh food grown by the farmers. It was important for these resources to be distributed, especially during the rising unemployment rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forming these diverse connections, being present in the community, and demonstrating that they care has built rapport for the project and allowed it to be sustained. Dr. Kinefuchi describes the ethics based around GUFI as being sensitive to and inclusive of the cultural differences in the community and trying their best to serve them, while making sure that the community members are also included in the decisions making.
With GUFI receiving the grant, they are able to work with the community to grow food locally and educate others. With so many Greensboro residents in the one community, there isn’t one grocery store in walking distance. GUFI is working with the community to erase some of those problems by establishing a farm to provide fresh produce for the community.
In order for the farm to be a success,the project needed many volunteers. For the community to be involved, they must be aware of the opportunity. So far, GUFI has used social media, websites, and flyers about the farm and the market and communicated how local residents can help keep the Urban Farm a success.
GUFI is also educating the residents on the importance of fresh food, nutrition, composting, and growing their own food.
GUFI could not run without working with local black farmers, city officials, other community organisations and leaders, and most importantly the residents of that specific community. The Garden of Peace officially opened to the public in August 2021.
To learn more about GUFI’s work and the progress they are making, please like and share their Facebook page to make sure this initiative is being shared with others to slow down food insecurities in urban communities.
Eboni Walker is a senior, graduating in the spring of 2021 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Graduating with her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, along with a minor in Communication Studies, Eboni has picked up a passion for health and wellness, also taking up her own efforts in making more sustainable food choices. Eboni demonstrates her love for the community and understanding of sustainable food choices by supporting local farmers markets in the Greensboro community.
Margaree Brown will be graduating with a BS in Marketing and a minor in Communication Studies in May 2021 from UNC Greensboro. During her senior year she had the opportunity to take a course focusing on leadership. During her years at UNCG, she was exposed to community leaders passionate for change in their community. It was clear to her in order to share their story and message, this article can produce even more community leaders in Greensboro.
Grace Herndon is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She will be Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies, this spring 2021. During her years at UNCG, Grace has enjoyed interacting with people and learning more about the community. She has found it important to “listen to learn, and learn how to take action”. Learning about community leaders, Grace understood that it is important to listen to the community and allow them to share their experience in the article.