‘We’ve Got to Get Back to Where We Start Producing’: Black Farmer Gives Away Crops, Aims to Inspire More Black People to Grow Food

Farming has been a part of Calvin Bryant’s life for more than 70 years now. The 81-year-old, who now lives in Lake Placid, Florida — a small town located about 130 miles from both Tampa and Orlando — was born on a small farm just west of Valdosta, Georgia.

“I’m a country boy,” said Bryant. “Always have been, always will be; that was the way it was for Blacks back in my day.” 

Bryant told Atlanta Black Star that he grows everything from greens to tomatoes on his two-acre farm. His okra plants stand 10 feet tall.

“This here land we’re standing on is full of okra, turnip, mustard greens, tomatoes and broccoli,” he said. “Some of it I sell and some of it I give away. If people don’t have money, I mainly just give it away — the more I give the more God keeps replacing; that’s the way of life.” 

Taking into account that many people rely on the convenience of grocery stores, Bryant said he gives away roughly half of his produce to inspire the community to become its own producers and not just consumers.  

“That’s one of the things that I see in my people, we don’t produce anything. When you don’t produce, we become dependent. We’ve got to get back to where we start producing something, Bryant said. “Farming teaches you discipline,” he added.

Bryant says he’s learned the value of being a producer while growing up on the farm. He says you will never go hungry if you grow your own food.

“It teaches you survival skills. If we can go back to those days, get that in our blood, we’d be better off because we become independent.” 

Bryant said that he didn’t attend school “like they do now,” but the life lessons he’s learned from farming have changed his life. He said it’s all about setting goals, having pride in what you do, and teaching the next generation the value of that.

“Set goals for yourself, and set them high. Even if you don’t get to the top, you will be better off than where you started,” said Bryant.

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