What led you to become a farmer?
I got into farming because back in 2014 my youngest brother was shot several times in Chicago and died about 15 months later. He was not a saint, but he also didn’t have good choices in the community we grew up in. Everything failed, not just my brother, but other people in the community. They were closing about 50 public schools around that time, and there wasn’t a Level 1 trauma unit for adults at the nearby hospital. And here I am, while this is happening in my community—I got a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in social work, and for what?
When he died, I remember talking to my mom that, “I’m just going to start doing things by myself, from making my clothes to the food I eat.” She laughed, and I was like, “I’m serious.” It really started with this burning desire to be more self-sufficient because I did not trust our government officials or community leaders to do the right thing.
Off Grid in Color is more than a livestock operation. What else do you do?
I like to describe it as a homestead sanctuary for health and wellness. The whole idea of a homestead is to be self-sufficient. Farming was an outlet for that. I’m building the farm up so that I can have these other things. Another part of Off Grid In Color is we have doula services. And we do all kinds of educational things to teach people how to be more self-sufficient.
One project is called the Pork Futures Project. I rehomed 20 pigs that were going to be euthanized. I said, “Yo, if people want to go in on this, I’ll give you a good deal.” Usually I sell a whole hog for $1,200, but I would do this for $900. Within seven days, I raised $13,000 for these pigs. I like to do crowdfunding where people are involved in the ups and downs, which is truly how community supported agriculture should function—that you take the wins and the losses with the farmers.
Your Thanksgiving turkeys follow a similar model. Why should people be planning for Thanksgiving already?
Well, over a hundred already sold. The farmer has to plan for the future. You should, too. I start promoting turkeys in May, and people say, “Oh my gosh, I can’t even think that far ahead.” Well, that’s what I’m here for. If you want it from me, you better get it while the getting’s good.
The Durham Co-op is going to have 10 of them, too. I’m also giving turkeys away, probably about a half-dozen. It’s $80 for a small turkey to go to a family, and you can donate as much as you want. The feelgood part is, you know this turkey is going to a family who can’t necessarily afford it but appreciates sustainably raised meat.
Learn more at offgridincolors.com and support the farm’s fundraiser to find a permanent Triangle location at gf.me/u/yr6w67.
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