Working closely with Clarenda Stanley on our BIPOC Farmers Project and Farmer Inclusion is our new Regional Hub Outreach Coordinator Jasmin Gibson who took some time out of her day to let us get to know her better.
Lisa Cloete (LC): Can you tell us a short story about your background and what led you to this specific arena of work?
Jasmine Gibson (JG): From a young age, I was well known to advocate for anything relating to the natural environment. It has always been a part of me and has led me to pursue related coursework in high school, conservation internships, and a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Engineering.
While interning with the Youth Conservation Corps in high school I solidified my love for the conservation of land and the preservation of historical and cultural associations. During my internships with the NRCS, I gained an appreciation for interacting with farmers and personally communicating with them throughout a project.
I loved engaging with farmers and was starting to understand why there was a gap in resources for Black and Indigenous communities. So by the time I reached early adulthood I knew that I enjoyed doing work and research on sustainable farming, food security, extension, and equity. From high school until Covid’s outbreak in early 2020, I wished to pursue a position with the Peace Corps as an Agriculture Extension Volunteer.
After this process was disrupted by the pandemic, I redirected my personal interest to academia and to organizations with whom I share values.
Agricultural extension became my calling, and starting that journey as an Outreach Coordinator for a Non-Profit or government agency became my goal. Two years later I’m pursuing a Master’s in Horticultural Sciences and have started my employment with Nature For Justice as a Regional Hub Outreach Coordinator.
I was blessed with the perfect opportunity to finally dive into what I’ve always felt passionate about and now I’m here!
LC: Jasmine, tell us what you will specifically do for N4J.
JG: I will be working alongside Clarenda Stanley as the Regional Hub Outreach Coordinator and working to create a resource hub for Black and Indigenous Farmers in North Carolina. We are hoping to provide accessible solutions to those who are impacted by the climate crisis and are often neglected of resources at the county, state, and federal levels.
Simultaneously, we hope to broaden the market for smallholder BIPOC farmers, provide them with nature-based solutions, and increase their profits for carbon offsets. We are already collaborating with partners on creating programs.
LC: What do you especially find exciting about the idea of working for us and this project? What moves you?
JG: I really love that this is a new non-profit. It’s a baby eager to have new people provide further information, ideas, and alternate perspectives. The range of expertise and experiences on the team is more I’ve seen in one zoom call than in a year.
It’s impressive and inspiring seeing what everyone else brings to the table. I’m still listening more than contributing but because I know everyone is kind of on the same learning curve, I feel encouraged to express my ideas and contribute to the discussion. Since these are research topics I feel passionate about, I love expressing what I have learned so far and identifying my gaps in knowledge.
I’m inspired and excited to witness my growth and impact over the next couple of years.
I hope that at some point I can learn something from the farmers themselves and immerse myself in their work. I would love to learn how to operate on a seasonal schedule, plant, harvest, and use machinery.
My ideal image for future farming is collective farming. Once we create this regional resource hub in North Carolina, I would like to see smallholder farmers receive enough support to unite amongst each other and represent established communities that collaborate on the labor and care of shared land. I hope to see this collective farming provide jobs for individuals with and without a farming background, expanding the range of knowledge, resources, and food security.
In my perfect image of future farming, I expect North Carolina to become the national example for community farming, farming equity, and sustainable agriculture.
LC: Thank you so much Jasmine, we love your vision for the future of farming that can potentially be replicated on a global scale to create a more harmonious and balanced way of life for humans and nature to coexist.