The Federation of Southern Cooperatives strived toward the development of self-supporting communities with programs that increase income and enhance other opportunities; and we also assist in land retention and development, especially for African Americans, but essentially for all family farmers.
We do this with an active and democratic involvement in poor areas across the South, through education and outreach strategies which support low-income people in molding their communities to become more humane and livable.
We assist in the development of cooperatives and credit unions as a collective strategy to create economic self-sufficiency.
World Farmers’ mission is to support small farmers in sustainable agricultural production and successful marketing practices to connect culturally relevant produce to viable markets. World Farmers provides mentoring, training, and hands-on assistance when working with each farmer to build the capacity needed to operate individual farming enterprises. We enact our mission through various initiatives, the most prominent of which is the Flats Mentor Farm program.
Since 1984, Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster, Massachusetts has provided the space and infrastructure for small immigrant and refugee farmers to get started. The farmers at Flats Mentor Farm produce over 55 acres of ethnic specialty crops; supplying to wholesale and retail markets throughout New England, including over 40 farmers’ markets and dozens of small scale direct-to-consumer outlets in and around Massachusetts. Participating farmers are skilled producers who come from agrarian backgrounds and seek to make a new life for themselves while preserving their cultural identity. In order to contribute to their success in the new culture and climate of the Northeast, World Farmers’ Mentoring Program offers regular trainings in agricultural production, business development, and marketing. All programming is performed in a respectful environment of cross-cultural co-learning among farmers, World Farmers staff, and our interns and volunteers.
Many of the farmers at Flats Mentor Farm have told us that they never believed there would be an opportunity like this when they came to this country: access to land, trainings in new growing practices for this climate, and support in building a business in farming have made a huge impact on their ability to adapt and thrive. Just as important as our programming and services is the simple access to a safe space to learn from their neighbors, feed their families, heal, rebuild their cultural foundations, and teach the next generation all that agriculture can provide.
In addition, Rural Coalition is a member of the International farmers organization, La Via Campesina, and an active member and participant in the LVC North American Region.