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Chris Newman Wants To Help You Start Farming - Without Ruining Your Life

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Through his outspoken social media presence, farmer Chris Newman has killed a lot of sacred broiler chickens. His video about racism in agriculture, “I’m a Black Farmer,” went viral in January. When he and his wife started Sylvanaqua Farms, a multi-enterprise permaculture farm in the Virginia Piedmont in 2013, he had no idea that he was in for a harrowing ride that would teach him painful lessons about food and farming—and show him a better way for alternative agriculture to thrive. Food sovereignty, says Newman, just isn’t possible under the small farm model—but that doesn’t mean that the principles that motivate people to get into it in the first place aren’t valuable as guides. 

His new ebook, First Generation Farming, lays out his vision: building co-ops for first-generation farmers that hold resources in common and control a shared supply chain. His first such effort collapsed under the weight of interpersonal conflict four months after its formation in 2021, but he’s now building a cooperative structure in which his and two other farms supply livestock and eggs to a new entity, Blackbird Farms, a commonly held processor and sales distributor. Eventually, he says, Blackbird will buy the individual farm assets and fold those into a holding company.


Read the full interview here. 

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