PROVOST FARM: CULTIVATING EQUITY

CULTIVATING EQUITY: THE STORY OF A LOUSIANA AFRICAN AMERICAN SUGARCANE FARM FAMILY

Update from June and Angie:

First, let us thank you!

After reaching our goal of $195k, the hard work of rebuilding a farm centered around the issues of equity, education, and food justice continues! Plus, the dedication of achieving restitution through litigation and policy change moves forward.

Help us to cultivate a movement towards a bold independent farm model by reaching our new $250k mark.

More updates on projects in progress coming soon; including the creation of  The Provost Farm Agricultural Heritage Center and Green Space, in partnership with our local university's chapter of The National Organization of Minority  Architecture Students. 

Our immediate need  is $500k for property purchase prices, labor, seed, etc.  We can do this together!

We are honored to be featured in the New York Times, The 1619 Project. Check out the essay written by Khalil Gibran Muhammad and audio publication by The Daily Podcast:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/sugar-slave-trade-slavery.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/podcasts/1619-slavery-sugar-farm-land.html


Here’s a bit of recent background info:


Black sugarcane farmers were once a large economic force in south Louisiana--they were land owners, entrepreneurs, and hard workers.

Similar to what is portrayed on OWN's "Queen Sugar" television series, African American cane farmers have become nearly extinct.

The Provost family — some of the very last black sugarcane farmers in the United States — have experienced many of these same problems as illustrated on TV. They raised sugarcane for over four generations, yet their once vast farm has fallen victim to discriminatory loan servicing by unscrupulous lenders and unfair treatment by sugar mill executives.

Facing a multitude of obstacles such as property loss, retaliation and harassment, black farmers are being systematically driven from their farms and homesteads. Statistically, African Americans own less than 1% of US land which can be corelated to food apartheid, robbing of voters rights, and a failing criminal justice system.

Shortly after the foreclosure of their personal residence which was collateral for USDA guaranteed farm loans at First Guaranty Bank, Wenceslaus (June) and Angela Provost moved in with June's elderly mother.

On December 12, 2018, just before the Christmas holidays June's mom was served a NOTICE OF SEIZURE AND SALE by the Iberia Parish Sherriff’s department, this time for June's childhood home, also a formerly USDA guaranteed debt with Midsouth Bank. Although the sale has been temporarily canceled, if seized, the family will effectively be homeless. With your support, this property originally purchased by June's grandfather, can be saved and used for legacy building purposes. 

The Provosts are currently fighting multiple lawsuits in order to dismantle the discriminatory patterns and practices committed against them and need immediate assistance to save their ancestral  land.

Please follow their journey:

https://www.provostfarmllc.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-VWIZIL4ag&t=46s 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/30/america-black-farmers-louisiana-sugarcane

https://www.facebook.com/cultivateequity

https://www.pacermonitor.com/public/case/25712246/Provost_v_First_Guaranty

http://americanblackfarmersproject.com/



THE PROVOST STORY

In 2007, Wenceslaus Provost Jr., the youngest of three brothers, began the purchase of his father’s 4300 acre farm of owned and leased property, shortly before his father passed away. His wife, Angela, was an art teacher to pre-k children in Houston, TX, but began her own sugarcane farm New Iberia, LA, after marrying into the Provost family.

By 2014, Wenceslaus’s farm dwindled down to 1200 acres. Today, the farms have shrunk to less than 100 acres, including 36 acres he presently owns with his brother--which is currently under threat of foreclosure.

While bankers and sugar mill executives have asserted losses are due to “poor farming practices,” this is simply an excuse used to disguise the systemic practices of mistreatment and fraud for the purpose of forcing Black farmers from their land.

The Provosts have discovered numerous fraudulent acts committed by institutions, which resulted in loss of farmland, including misappropriated funds, forgery to loan documents, and a stark disparity in resources and terms provided to black growers as compared to resources provided to white growers.

In uncovering these fraudulent acts, June and Angie have experienced a barrage of incidents of retaliation, including verbal and physical harassment, slander, the placement of dead animals in tractors, and vandalized machinery.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Please Donate!

The Provosts are working to resolve these issues through litigation and activism, but need your help! The family believes these institutions should not be allowed to break laws, waste tax payer funds, and harm the livelihood of those who work to uphold an agricultural and ancestral legacy.  

USE OF FUNDS

- Securing Homestead 
- The Provost Farm Agricultural Heritage Center and Green Space
- Farm Supplies and Machinery
- Mechanization and Conservation Farm
- Utility and Living Expenses
- Legal and Business Expenses

SINCERE GRATITUTDE TO ALL CONTRIBUTERS!!

Also, support the organizations that have generously offered  the Provost family encouragement and resources:

-Rural Coalition  -  https://www.ruralco.org/

-Farms 30000 - https://www.30000acres.org/

-National Family Farm Coalition - https://www.nffc.net/

-National Black Growers Council - https://nationalblackgrowerscouncil.com/

-Female Farmer Project  - http://www.femalefarmerproject.org/

-Farm Aid -  https://www.farmaid.org

-Federation of Southern Cooperatives - http://www.federationsoutherncoop.com/

-Radical Xchange - https://www.radxc.com/

- Propeller - http://gopropeller.org/




“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” --James Baldwin


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Organizer

Angela Provost 
Organizer
New Iberia, LA
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