Farm Credit group donation will help Black Soil boost diversity

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Farm Credit Mid-America is donating $200,000 to Black Soil KY, an agritourism social enterprise that fosters a greater market share for Black farmers in Kentucky.

This four-year partnership will support agricultural education and diversity initiatives across the Commonwealth, including Lexington, Louisville and Hopkinsville.

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“Black Soil KY’s focus on agricultural education, innovation and diversification aligns with Farm Credit Mid-America’s purpose to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture,” said Mark Barker, Senior Vice President of Ag Lending for Kentucky. “This investment is part of Farm Credit Mid-America’s ongoing commitment to invest in programs and initiatives that grow the next generation of agriculture, advocate for the industry and invest in programs that strengthen rural communities. This includes supporting organizations like Black Soil KY that foster diversity and inclusivity in agriculture.”

The investment will be paid over four years in $50,000 installments from 2021-2025.

Farm Credit Mid-America’s commitment will support:
• Urban High Tunnel Project: Grants will support a collaboration between Black Soil, Grow Appalachia and Seedleaf to construct and install forty-eight urban microfarms (called high tunnels) across Hopkinsville, Lexington and West Louisville. These microfarms will cultivate organic seasonal produce in market gardens in efforts to decrease residential food insecurity, increase specialty crop input into the local food system and cultivate new and beginning farmers.
• Black Soil KY Grow Kits: Grow Kits are at-home garden kits that allow families to learn how to grow their own food while nurturing an interest in urban gardening and agriculture. The investment will support the distribution of two hundred Grow Kits to middle and high school students throughout Kentucky, including Hopkinsville, Lexington and West Louisville every year of the partnership.

• Virtual Learning Modules: The Grow Kits will complement Virtual Learning Modules that feature Black Kentucky farmers and provide information about diverse and sustainable agricultural practices and career exploration. These modules will also provide information about farm financing, loans and the capital necessary to grow a farming operation.
• Volunteer Opportunities: Farm Credit Mid-America will also continue to engage with Black Soil Kentucky over the next four years through a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities, including volunteering to help Black Soil farmers in Lexington, Louisville and Hopkinsville glean, package and distribute locally produced farm share crops.

Black Soil KY is a Lexington-based non-profit whose mission is to reconnect Black Kentuckians to their heritage and legacy in agriculture and encourage life-long learning among its audiences of all ages, from kindergarten to adulthood.

“Diversity is needed not only socially, but it is critical to the application of agriculture,” said Ashley Smith, Co-Founder and COO of Black Soil KY. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with Farm Credit Mid-America to advance our cause in fostering a greater market share for black farmers and producers across the Commonwealth.”

Farm Credit Mid-America is a financial services cooperative that has served the credit needs of farmers and rural residents across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee for more than a century.

Backed by the strength of more than $28.8 billion in assets, Farm Credit Mid-America provides loans for real estate, operating, equipment, housing and related services such as crop insurance and vehicle, equipment and building leases.