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How This Immigrant Farmer From Jamaica Is Reshaping U.S. Farming With Aid From Crowdfunding

This shiny new tractor is one Shellie-Ann Kerns was able to purchase with money donated to her fundraising campaigns. Kerns is now a full-time farmer at Bunkhouse Acres near Matlock. COURTESY OF SHELLIE-ANN KERNS

 

Shellie-Ann Kerns first migrated to the United States from Jamaica in 2013 to join her spouse. As a child of subsistence farmers, Kerns says she is a committed locavore. At her youthful age, her father worked as a migrant farmer in Canada.

Over the years, she has kept chickens for eggs and manure, and has grown vegetables seasonally for her kitchen and to trade with neighbors and she also donated surplus eggs to the Matlock Food Bank, who are always grateful to receive locally produced food, Kerns says in this post.

According to her, she has been inspired by the pandemic to transition from an enthusiastic gardener to a commercial farmer. She tells the Olympian that during the peak of the pandemic, she saw many empty grocery shelves due to the disruptions in the supply chain.

“I thought, ‘Hey, I have a garden that’s incredibly abundant. Why not scale this up?’” she quizzed. “Farming is my way of ensuring a more robust food system. I knew that the answer was having more local food available.”

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As a result, she quit her job as an aircraft dispatcher to focus on commercial farming. She is now running a gofundme campaign to raise money to further her ambition. She has now raised $80,919 out of her $250,000 goal.

“I am an unapologetically black woman launching a farm in western Washington. Your donations will help me buy a tractor and implements, drill a new well, build high tunnels as well as construct a commercial/demonstration kitchen for making spice blends and teaching,” she writes on her gofundme.

“Your donations will give me a much-needed boost in purchasing a compact tractor and hiring help to clear the land for large-scale planting. Funds will also be used for building high tunnels and a demonstration kitchen for preparing spice blends and imparting another of my passions- baking with sourdough,” Kerns adds.

Kerns’s farm is a 20-acre homestead and designated tree farm in the Middle Satsop Valley, in the homelands of the Tsihalis Salishan people.

Kerns and her husband grow all their food, enriched with compost, featuring manure from their organically fed chickens or in locally sourced garden soil. Also, Kerns recently launched Gray Harbor’s first Black-led community-supported agriculture scheme. The program has some fifty families subscribed to receive veggies each week, à la carte.

“Eighteen weeks of farm-fresh goods cost between $300 ($16/week) and $600 ($33/week) depending on household size and income,” newsamericasnow.com reports.

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Written by PH

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