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Documentary photo essay following the life and challenges of Black Farmers in California.
Documentary photo essay following the life and challenges of Black Farmers in California.
Documentary photo essay following the life and challenges of Black Farmers in California.
46 backers pledged $3,197 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Black Farmers of California

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James McGill is a 3rd generation pig farmer, at 71 he has been farming for over 50 years. After returning from Vietnam he managed his family's 520 acre farm, McGill Farms, from 1976 to 1987. He lost it all due to alleged suspect practices by a USDA lending agency and has been fighting to keep his land since 1987. He is still currently farming and dreams of self sufficiency and to reclaim ownership of his family's land. Mr. McGill's story is not a uncommon one for African American farmers in the United States, but is a seldom told one.  In 1920 African American Farmers made up approximately 14% of all farmers in the United States, and they owned a combined 15 million acres of land. Since then they have faced the effects of aggressive globalization, changes in technology, racist lending policies, corporate farm buyouts and changes in the the policies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. African American farmers today account for less than 1 percent of the nation's farmers but we don't know their faces. I have teamed up with Farms to Grow, Inc., which was founded in 2004 because of the increasing disappearance of African American farmers and lack of services provided, to help tell the stories of Mr. McGill and other farmers like him. Farms to Grow, Inc. has dedicated a decade to working with African American farmers to help maintain their farms and traditions and grow the next generation of African American farmers. The goal of my project is to document the life of these farmers and share their commitment to continue to do what they love, even through all the hardships that they have faced and continue to face. And to help give the farmers a face and to bring attention to their triumphs and struggles. 

Why Your Help is Needed

Since Mr. McGill and the other farmers that will be included in this project live 4 to 6 hours away I will need help with transportation. I plan on using the money raised for this project to help pay for transportation and housing when needed. Money raised will also go towards equipment such as memory cards, batteries, etc... A show dedicated to this project will be organized in a venue to be determined as well as a short documentary film. Funds raised here will also go towards buying the material necessary for printing and mounting for the show and completing the film. One of my main goals is that the success of this project leads to traveling outside of California and include Black farmers from other states who have dealt and are dealing with similar issues that Black farmers have faced in California. 

Risks and challenges

The primary challenge is transportation. The majority of this money will go towards getting to the farms, to get footage. A secondary challenge is making sure the photos and video are not repetitive, this can only be fixed by getting to as many sites as possible, which this would fund. One goal of the project to film and/or photograph as much of the litigation process as possible, which has yet to be determined if the court will allow it. All farmers asked have agreed to be photographed and have their stories told.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Receive acknowledgment in short Documentary credits. Invitation to show.

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    Receive acknowledgment in short Documentary credits. Personal invitation to screening of the finished project, 8x10 print, copy of short Documentary, and invitation to show.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Receive acknowledgment in short Documentary credits, Personal invitation to screening of finished project, 11x17 edition print, copy of short Documentary, and invitation to show.

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    Receive acknowledgment in short Documentary credits. Personal invitation to screening of finished project, An 13x19 edition print, copy of short Documentary, and invitation to show.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Receive acknowledgment in short Documentary credits. Personal invitation to screening of finished project, 24x18 edition print, copy of short Documentary, and invitation to show.

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Funding period

- (30 days)