James Minton lived in the New York City projects, but his soul belonged on the farm.

Now the man from the city is living his dream as the owner of Triple J Farms in Windsor, New York, one of the only Black-run farms in the state.

Reaching his dream was as painful as it was difficult. His son was shot and killed in the same project building that James lived in. He knew he needed to get his family out of that environment. 

Today, Minton runs the farm with the help of multiple family members. The 20-acre farm has cows, chickens, bees, goats and more. His passion for farming should be held as an example to the industry but it serves as a reminder that Black representation in the field is lacking. 

A farmstead is pictured on a cloudy day with scattered sunlight. James Minton and his family run one of the only Black farms in the state of New York. According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Black farmers make up just 1% of all farmers in the country. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

“The importance of Black farmers is land. Land is ownership and it’s the foundation of everything,” Jarrad Nwameme, one of Milton’s grandchildren and the chief executive officer of the farm told theGrio. “There’s not many of us and the resources tend to not be available for us.”

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Black farmers make up just 1% of all farmers in the country. A 2021 analysis by CNN found that the USDA rejected loan requests from Black farmers at more than twice the rate of white farmers, 42% to 20%, according to the CNN report. 

It’s also been hard for Black farmers to hold onto their land.

Throughout the 20th century, Black farmers lost $326 billion due to discriminatory lending practices and forced sales of land, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts. 

Back in 1968, Austin, Texas, took farmland from the descendants of a slave to build the U.S. Route 183 highway. “Land was taken from all of us,” Nwameme said, referring to Black people whose ancestors left land for their children. “It was taken away or we gave it up.”

For James Minton, the journey started when he was a kid and spent his summers on a farm with his aunt and uncle. After years in New York City with his wife, he moved to Windsor, New York, in 2010 to start the farm. “He would sell eggs to his church [in New York City] and that was the start of the business side,” Nwameme said. “Every time they came to church to sell the eggs, we would all convene and catch up as a family.” 

Eventually, Nwameme and some of his cousins got involved and helped grow the farm. Things shifted when the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement surfaced in 2020. “George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement triggered a lot. People were hitting us up about having a Black-owned farm and wanting to help us,” Nwameme said. “I think people looked at our farm as part of a movement.”

Their business skyrocketed during this time. They went from selling 30 to 40 dozen eggs a month to 1,000 to 1,200 dozen a month. While there have been peaks and valleys through the journey, the family is proud of what they represent to Black farmers.

 “The family dynamic is never easy as well but we’ve been able to navigate through that,” Nwameme said. “We want to continue to grow.”

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