We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy
This stunning anthology embodies the collaborative spirit it celebrates. “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” This line from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem serves as the epigraph and guiding spirit of this magnificent collection, which includes essays, poems, photographs, and conversations from fabulous contributors like Michael Twitty, Joy Harjo, Elizabeth Alexander, Margaret Wilkeron Sexton, and Ross Gay. In addition to gathering beautiful poetry and reflective essays, Baszile travelled the country to interview Black farmers, winemakers, and culinary experts about the African American land-owning and farming experience, both past and present. Their wide-ranging and richly varied stories make for life-giving and community-changing reading.
From the author of Queen Sugar—now a critically acclaimed series on OWN directed by Ava Duvernay—comes a beautiful exploration and celebration of black farming in America.
In this impressive anthology, Natalie Baszile brings together essays, poems, photographs, quotes, conversations, and first-person stories to examine black people’s connection to the American land from Emancipation to today. In the 1920s, there were over one million black farmers; today there are just 45,000. Baszile explores this crisis, through the farmers’ personal experiences. In their own words, middle aged and elderly black farmers explain why they continue to farm despite systemic discrimination and land loss. The “Returning Generation”—young farmers, who are building upon the legacy of their ancestors, talk about the challenges they face as they seek to redress issues of food justice, food sovereignty, and reparations.
These farmers are joined by other influential voices, including noted historians Analena Hope Hassberg and Pete Daniel, and award-winning author Clyde W. Ford, who considers the arrival of Africans to American shores; and James Beard Award-winning writers and Michael Twitty, reflects on black culinary tradition and its African roots. Poetry and inspirational quotes are woven into these diverse narratives, adding richness and texture, as well as stunning four-color photographs from photographers Alison Gootee and Malcom Williams, and Baszile’s personal collection.
As Baszile reveals, black farming informs crucial aspects of American culture—the family, the way our national identity is bound up with the land, the pull of memory, the healing power of food, and race relations. She reminds us that the land, well-earned and fiercely protected, transcends history and signifies a home that can be tended, tilled, and passed to succeeding generations with pride. We Are Each Other’s Harvest elevates the voices and stories of black farmers and people of color, celebrating their perseverance and resilience, while spotlighting the challenges they continue to face. Luminous and eye-opening, this eclectic collection helps people and communities of color today reimagine what it means to be dedicated to the soil.