Over the last two years, Black Health New Mexico (BHNM), an Albuquerque-based nonprofit, partnered with local farmers to offer a delivery community supported agriculture (CSA) system from their Farm to Table program. The program specifically served Black families hardest-hit by the pandemic and was assisted by a $15,000 grant from the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association’s (NMFMA) COVID-19 Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund.
“As we respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we understand that collaboration between cultures will be an essential part of survival and recovery,” Sunshine Muse, founder and executive director of BHNM, said. “Though we cannot come together in-person to share a meal and discuss our similarities and differences, we can certainly provide food as a sustainable way of caring for one another.”
To date the CSA delivered — at no cost — more than 400 bags of locally grown, nutrient-dense produce to 25 elder households in Albuquerque and 15 families in Santa Fe. The CSA prioritized elderly, pregnant, and single-parent Black people. Through this project, those in need accessed a wide variety of produce including potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, lettuce, arugula, kale, collard greens, onions, garlic, squash, apples, cucumbers, radishes, and more — all sourced from New Mexico farmers, with priority given to family farms owned by women and people of color.
“I love our farmers,” Muse said. “They are providing a sense of history, connectedness, and worthiness. Their work is sacred and inherently social justice work, especially for the small farmers, family farmers, and farmers of color.”
The project generated a consistent source of new income for participating farmers, many of whom experienced substantial financial losses associated with pandemic-driven school and business closures. Muse said the intention was to “increase local, nutritious food accessibility to our priority populations while paying farmers’ market rates for [participating farmers’] goods.” The participating farms include Orozco Farm, Paradox Farm, Monte Vista Organic, Green Tractor Farm, Estrella Farms, Querencia Creations, Malandro Farm, Mi Young’s Farm, Mendez Produce, Estela Alcantar Produce, Khalsa Family Farm, Rodriguez Farm, and Rosa Alcantar Farm.
Black Health New Mexico works to address health disparities in the Black community targets chronic disease areas such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as well as infant and maternal health. BHNM recognizes the intersectionality between food, food sovereignty, and health outcomes, and understands that many of the same issues disproportionately affect Indigenous communities. For Muse, affordable access to locally grown organic and/or pesticide free food is one essential way to support both BIPOC communities through the pandemic and beyond.
“We are not just data or just tragedy,” Muse said. “We hold one another as experts and as worthy of having a powerful voice at the table.”
Watch this video about Black Health New Mexico’s Farm to Table program: https://vimeo.com/642502963/abac3cbe4c
This story is part of a series featuring the many farmers, ranchers, nonprofit organizations, and collaborative groups who received grants via the NMFMA’s COVID-19 Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund. The Fund was designed to reduce economic hardship caused by market disruptions linked to the ongoing public health crisis and accelerate a sustained and equitable recovery among farmers and low-income communities. In total, $484,653.89 was distributed in 2020 to 100+ producers and groups. The tireless work and generous spirit of these individuals help solidify New Mexico’s local food system and ensure food access by those in need during an historic, global health crisis. Visit the NMFMA website to learn more and to contribute to the Fund.
By NMFMA Staff | January 2022