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Farm and Food Project to cultivate next generation of farmers

Dr. English Bradshaw talks about the plans for the Farm and Food Project on land formerly utilized by the Memorial Industrial School.

Farm and Food Project to cultivate next generation of farmers
September 15
15:29 2021

For years, Dr. English Bradshaw has worked hard to help preserve the history of the Memorial Industrial School, which served as an orphanage for Black children in Forsyth County from 1928 until 1971. Now Bradshaw, who lived at the orphanage for 12 years, is leading an initiative to turn vacant land once used by the orphanage as a campus farm, into incubator farmer space. 

The goal of the “Farm and Food Project” is to help cultivate the next generation of farmers while also providing food for communities in need.

Participants in the program will have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of farming. “Participants will learn about soil, seeding … really everything from the farm to the fork,” Bradshaw said. 

There will also be an opportunity where aspiring or experienced farmers who don’t have the space they need, can rent space. 

The Farm and Food Project will also help farmers sell their produce and provide free food for communities that are considered food deserts, which is defined as an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. The program was made possible through a partnership with the Memorial Industrial CDC and Forsyth County. 

Bradshaw said he has been working with the county for a while trying to figure out what to do with the vacant land.

 “We’ve been working for years to find a program that would be appropriate and we came up with the idea for a community garden, where we can help address the issues of food insecurity and also provide an avenue to help foster new farmers,” Bradshaw said. 

The Memorial Industrial School originally began in 1906 as the Colored Baptist Orphanage Home in Winston-Salem’s Belview neighborhood. It moved to 425 acres of land near Rural Hall in 1928, where it was renamed Memorial Industrial School and was the only African American orphanage in the state to serve a single county. The county bought the land in 1977 and now uses it for Horizons Park. The original facility included dormitories, a power plant, and a campus farm. The campus farm produced food for residents and the citizens of Winston-Salem.

Over the years Bradshaw has written several books on the Memorial Industrial School, including one based on his experiences at the orphanage. During the groundbreaking ceremony last weekend, Bradshaw said he vividly remembers picking potatoes and tomatoes on the same farm as a child. He said it feels good to see things come full circle.  

“Sixty-six years ago, I personally picked potatoes and tomatoes out of this very same land. Now here I am, 66 years later, back here again,” he said. 

For more information on the Farm and Food Project, visit http://www.micdc.org.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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