Jan 8, 2024
UNFI supports Black farmer training program

Organic and natural foods supplier UNFI (United Natural Foods Inc.) and Cargill have increased donations to an organization that trains Black farmers and ranchers to diversify retailer and foodservice supplier bases.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is expanding the number of slots in the program, Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture, in 2024, its second year. Its goal is to help increase incomes as producers access new markets including commodities, grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets, according to a news release.

Members of this year’s cohort are:

• Jacqueline Alexander — Morale Orchards, Hood River, Oregon
• Ina Braxton — I Urban Farm, Covington, Georgia
• Dazmonique Carr — Deeply Rooted Enterprises, Detroit
• Samuel Cobb — Sam Cobb Farms, Desert Hot Springs, California
• Donnie Cochran — Cochran Farms, Clermont, Florida
• Millie Coleman — Farmer Millz Farms, Macon, Georgia
• Tonya Cryer — Cryer Family Produce, Mount Hermon, Louisiana
• Arthur Eaton — Triple Eaton Farm, Mount Olive, Mississippi
• Tope Fajingbesi, — Dodo Farms, Silver Spring, Maryland
• Ronald Friday — Candy Friday Farms, Blythewood, South Carolina
• Niki and Brandon Gerrins — Sonkissed Meadows, Sylacauga, Alabama
• Darlene Hillery Goodgame — Blue Heron Urban Farms and Sanctuary, Fairburn, Georgia
• Tamu Green — C.O.O.L. Farming, Ridgeland, Mississippi
• Demetrius Hunter — Black Farmers Hub, Norlina, North Carolina
• Christopher Muse — Muse 3 Farm LLC, Greensburg, Louisiana
• Nia Nyamweya — Beauty Blooms, Silver Spring, Maryland
• Jeremy Peaches — Fresh Life Organic, Houston
• Raphaela and Elijah Polanco — Atlanta Harvest, Ellenwood, Georgia
• Kendrick Ransome — Golden Organic Farm, Tarboro, North Carolina
• Anita Roberson — Botanical Bites & Provisions, Fredericksburg, Virginia
• Todd Western — Western Family Farms, Maple Grove, Minnesota

“This year’s cohort represents the rich diversity and potential of the Black agricultural community,” Jetheda Hernandez, NMSDC senior director of strategic alliances and programs, said in the release. “We look forward to the more inclusive and sustainable food supply chain they will help create.”

NMSDC National Minority Supplier Development Council


In addition to a larger group of participants, the Acres program is also growing its learning curriculum thanks to a partnership with the Southern University Ag Center. Farmers and ranchers in the program will engage in a 12-week learning curriculum focused on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with NMSDC corporate members. After the program concludes, NMSDC will assist them in obtaining MBE certification.

The expansion of this year’s program is part of NMSDC’s ongoing efforts to address disparities Black businesses face both within and without the organization, a major trend highlighted in NMSDC’s 2022 Minority Businesses Economic Impact Report that was released in May 2023.

Founded in 1972, NMSDC is the longest-operating business growth engine for the broadest group of systematically excluded communities of color (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, and Native American). Its impact goes beyond the supply chain. It’s about upward mobility for the emerging majority of Americans, an equal shot at participating in the American experiment of free-market capitalism and entrepreneurship, according to the release. NMSDC works to correct unequal minority access to wealth-building opportunities.


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