Georgia girl, 6, becomes youngest certified Black farmer in the state

Kendall Rae Johnson is also the youngest certified farmer in the state of Georgia.

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Kendall Rae Johnson, a 6-year-old Georgia girl has become the youngest Black farmer in the state, as well the youngest certified farmer in Georgia.

She developed her green thumb from her great-grandmother Laura “Kate” Williams

“She started out in a patio garden and the patio garden grew from a little bitty something to, by the time her fourth birthday came, we had a full-fledged garden in our backyard,” Johnson’s mother, Ursula Johnson, told 11 Alive. “And then we moved, and now she has a farm.”

Johnson’s love of flower and vegetable seeds began when she was just three years old, according to her website “aGROWKulture.” Her budding vegetable garden was recognized by the city of South Fulton, Ga., which declared Sept. 28 “Kendall Rae Appreciation Day”. Johnson hosts a kid garden club, and her business boasts 18 monthly memberships for food baskets from her garden.

“It has a big feeling in my heart. In my heart is the garden. The garden is special to me,” Johnson said. 

“The most fun thing about being a farmer is just being yourself,” she added. 

The young farmer is hoping to raise $10,000 for an outdoor agricultural science lab for composting. Her main goal is to “make new friends, make new things and inspire other kids.

As a certified farmer in Georgia, Johnson joins more than 42,000 active farms in the state. Black American producers make up less than 2% of the country’s 3.4 million farmers, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture

Kendall Rae Johnson / YouTube screenshot

According to The Washington Post, “Black farmers in America have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, a result of what agricultural experts and advocates for Black farmers say is a combination of systemic racism, biased government policy and social and business practices that have denied Black Americans equitable access to markets.”

A POLITICO analysis of USDA data reveals, “the agency granted loans to only 37 percent of Black applicants last year in one program that helps farmers pay for land, equipment, and repairs but accepted 71 percent of applications from white farmers.”  

“This data affirms what our elder farmers have been saying about the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades,” said Tracy Lloyd McCurty, executive director of the Black Belt Justice Center, a “legal and advocacy nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and regeneration of African American farmlands and land-based livelihoods through effective legal representation, advocacy, and community education.”

Advocates are pushing for the USDA to re-evaluate the criteria it uses for extending credit, which favors wealthy farms. The average Black farmer works with 132 acres, according to the 2017 Agricultural Census, compared to 431 acres for white farmers.

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