“Agriculture is our Backbone” – by Denise Jamerson

This Black History Month, we were honored to hear from Denise Jamerson of Legacy Taste of the Garden. She generously shared with us answers to our questions about Legacy, her family, and our community.

My family started farming, Greer Farms, in Lyles Station in the mid 1800’s. At that time farming consisted of small family farmers.  My father grew up farming with his father and brothers until he returned from the military and began his own family and farm.  He continued to help his father, but he also began to build his own farm in 1960. During the 70’s and 80’s our family farm grew with the changing agriculture industry, our farm was one of the larger Black owned farms in Lyles Station, a Black farming community. Growing up my daily life began with chores, of taking care of all farm animals, and ended with chores.  I had 5 sisters, so my dad always hired the young men from the community to help him farm, because he was farming up to 3000 acres at times. So his transformation from his grandfather’s homestead farm, to his dad’s small farm, to his full-fledged 100s of acres farming and livestock. The family started farming with mules and transitioned into tractors and combines.     

Farming is in my family’s blood, the farm life of taking care of livestock, growing and maintaining and canning and preserving vegetables was also a large part of the farm life.   

In 2016 when the Smithsonian came to acknowledge my father as one of the last remaining African American farmers still farming land that been in his family since pre-civil war, my son, DeAnthony Jamerson, realized his calling to Agriculture.  He had grown up in the Lyles Station community watching his grandfather and his great Uncle who farmed and sold Produce.  He decided that he wanted to go into agriculture growing and selling produce, hence the name Legacy Taste of the Garden.  

Legacy Taste of the Garden began selling a variety of garden produce, and to show others how to grow their own food, also to bring awareness to agriculture, especially Black farmers.

Legacy collaborates in the tristate community to bring awareness about farming, buying local, Indiana Black farmers, with organizations like the Memorial youth garden program, Y&E youth, the Book n’ Cook , and Lyles Station Museum and School.

The Book n’ Cook collaboration with Urban Seeds, EAAM, EVPL , has been a successful program for youth and their families, because it is a time that they can set aside and do a learning activity together.  It is exciting to see the interest and excitement of the youth learning about the local vegetables, they learn where they can go get them locally or it encourages them to grow their own. They are also open to trying fruits and vegetables in different forms than normal.

I also enjoy introducing growing food to youth who may not have ever been exposed to growing food.  It opens up opportunities that they may have never even considered.

Legacy also works with farmers across the state in farmers markets, CSA programs and the Indiana Black Loam Conference, which connects Historically Underserved farmers, producers and Growers with USDA agencies, programs, and opportunities to help all farmers at every stage of farming, from beginners to succession planning.

For Legacy and the 2023 Black History Theme, Black Resistance, we are Resilient, Black Farmers and Communities are resilient, that is the message we give to people. There are opportunities for us, Agriculture is everything that we do, use and work with, so it touches everyone and everything.  Agriculture is our backbone, we all have some connection to agriculture, our community and the United States. We need to understand and recognize the strength and Empowerment that comes with and from Agriculture.

To learn more about Legacy Taste of the Garden, including where and how to purchase their produce or get involved with their many programs, visit their website and follow on Facebook.

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