The 186th recipient is Zel Taylor of Down by the River Farm and Art Collective @downbytheriverswga in Albany, GA.
Zel writes, “My name is Zel (they/she) and I’m Afro-indigenous, queer non binary farmer in Southwest Georgia. As the descendant of sharecroppers, enslaved landworkers, farmers and herbalists, I am deeply committed to increasing food access and facilitating land connection within my community. I am inspired by the work and words of Fannie Lou Hammer and by my ancestors that tended to this land. I believe that liberation is rooted in the ability to access land to feed oneself and community. As a dreamer these seeds are deeply woven into my vision.
Farming can often be very isolating especially for more rural farmers. When I think about how farmers can be supported I think having a network is important - farming is a communal activity. My goal is to be a part of a workers owned farm so that everyone can share the work load, make decisions together and have access to the profit of their labor. When I think of communal care I think about food grown in a way that honors the earth and that is accessible to all. I think of living wages for farmers, land back being more than an acknowledgement, and reparations for black folks. Supporting farmers looks like making resources such as capital, land and education accessible.
As a young farmer one of our biggest challenges is land access. If you don't inherit land it’s getting more and more challenging to be able to have equitable access. These are challenges Down by the River Farm and a lot of young BIPOC and queer farmers are currently navigating. Our hope is that we will see more support around these areas for BIPOC and queer farmers.”