RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Being a farmer was nowhere on Davon Goodwin’s radar while was serving his country deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was when he was struck by an IED, earning him the Purple Heart, that he started to think about another way to contribute.
“So farming to me is near and dear to my heart because it’s not just a way to give back but it’s a way to keep the history and the lineage of people of color alive and well,” said Goodwin.
After earning a degree in biology at UNC Pembroke, Goodwin now grows grapes, blackberries, and mixed vegetables.
He also runs Sandhills Ag Innovation Center, a local food hub in Ellerbe.
He said the pandemic has brought hardship but also kept local farmers busy due to a shortage in fresh produce.
This is partly due to food banks buying products but also because people are cooking at home.
“Since people really couldn’t go out home delivery of fruits and vegetables became the new ‘it’ thing to do in farming. Because the farmer’s markets, some were able to open some wasn’t able to open and some people didn’t want to venture to the grocery store,” he said.
But in growing that produce, advocates say Black farmers have long faced discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and financial institutions.
Nearly $5 billion of the latest federal stimulus plan will go to disadvantaged minority farmers.
It includes loan forgiveness, grants, and educational programs.
“I do think that the money will go to people who deserve to have it who were maybe not able to access the capital when they needed it. I think that will go a long way to making sure that the next generation of farmers don’t go toward the same discriminatory practices the last generation has,” said Goodwin.
As this first-generation farmer sews the seeds for the next.