Cooperation Jackson’s food sovereignty initiatives help with sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership in the deep South

A little over a year ago Abrianni Perry, a 28-year-old transplant from Houston, came to Cooperation Jackson to learn about cooperatives from people who’ve been doing it for decades. She’s been happily plunging her hands into the rich West Jackson, Mississippi ever since.

“It’s a beautiful thing to be able to feed your community, especially in a food desert,” she says as she works the seven acres of the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust’s Freedom Farm in anticipation of the fall growing season. “The dirt is soft, and when it’s wet I feel like a little kid making mud pies. When a nice breeze comes by, and a cloud provides shade, it’s like God kissed you on the forehead.”

Like the land trust itself, the farm is named for Hamer, a 20th century community organizer, civil rights leader and icon of resistance. Among other major initiatives, Hamer organized Mississippi Delta sharecroppers, and created the Freedom Farm Cooperative in 1969.

This summer Freedom Farm yielded two tons of melons and veggies, about double last year’s total — which was harmed by a particularly hot growing season. “This year we adjusted by putting shading over the plants,” Perry explained. “But if climate change continues, how will we have food from the gardens? Everything is burning up.”

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