The Freedom Farm
From Social Justice Wiki
According to the 1960 census report, some 5,000 families in Sunflower Countey lived below the poverty line and earned less than $2,000 a year. Hamer began the farm with a project called the "pig bank". The National Council of Negro Women donated 50 pigs to the Freedom Farm. By the time the operation was in its third year about 300 families benefited with a yield of about 3,000 pigs.
- The Freedom Farm acquired land to raise vegetables. In June 1971 Hamer had acquired approximately seven hundered acres of land for her project. The land was underdeveloped due to lack of irrigation. In March 1973, it was said that the farm began to replace vegetable production. Between the years of 1972 and 1973, the Freedom Farm harvested seventy acres of pure nutritional foods for families across the Delta. The produce grown on the farm was sold to pay for the land.
- Freedom Farm built houses for the members. According to Hamer, "We decided to organize everybody who lived in a shack--which was most of us...and teach them how to take advantage of low cost FHA and farm mortgages. Once we got started we found that so many people wanted to take part that we didn't have time to give the organization a name. We just sort of call it'The Co-op." By 1972 Freedom Farm had built seventy homes.
- The Freedom Farm was focused on education and providing grants for students. The Freedom Farm gave scholarships of $300 to three highschools in Sunflower County
- The Freedom Farm created a business development plan, providing grants and loans for those who wished to create their own businesses. Buildings were purchased in Doddsville and Drew for sewing co-ops and laundromats. The Freedom Farm helped to establish a plumbing operation in Moorhead, Mississippi.
- Freedom Farm also served as a service agency for crisis. Resources were given to disaster relief efforts in Sunflower County, providing food, money, clothing, housing and transportation.
- Between 1970-1972, the farm helped hundreds of families purchase food stamps. Through the farm, transportation was provided to and from medical facilities. Protests were also organized for those black consumers who were abused.
- Freedom FArm also ran an employment program in which Hamer sought to target women. There was a large majority of families in Sunflower County that recieved public assistance and were headed by women.
Sadly, the Freedom Farm failed because of poor management and lack of funds to pay back the loans that were borrowed to create such a wonderful organization. It was a distinct organization because the land was acquired from scratch and it made an attempt to avoid relying on federal funds. The farm was a continuation of Fannie Lou Hamer's legacy of institution building.