Black farmer in SC wants new land to be ‘a place to heal’ | State and Regional News

LUGOFF, S.C. (AP) — Sadia Pollard’s father has a memory.

It’s the 1980s and Pollard’s father, a young man then, drives by his grandparents’ home and farm in the Chesapeake Bay area. The day is hot. He sees his grandmother bent over and digging in the dirt, maybe pulling weeds or taking a vegetable from the ground. He’s embarrassed that his grandmother is working the farm, Pollard said.

He thought farming “wasn’t respectable” at the time, said Pollard, who uses nonbinary pronouns.

In some rural communities like their great grandmother’s, leaving “is the biggest thing you could do,” they said. “To leave and not have to do what your grandparents did.”

Last Saturday, Pollard placed used billboard images over a field in Lugoff. The billboards will trap heat underneath and kill weeds, Pollard said.

A generation after their father felt embarrassed by farming, Pollard is working in a field in the hot sun.

The 24-year-old Black farmer runs Prosper Farm, where they grow root vegetables on part of an acre at Clemson University’s Sandhill Research and Education Center in northeast Columbia. The crops are sold by word of mouth or are given to people.

Now, Pollard is expanding to a five-acre property in Lugoff. Currently, Pollard is in a lease-to-own deal at the property and is asking for help raising $50,000 for startup costs like fertilizer, the repair and transport of a family tractor, mushroom fruiting house, greenhouse, irrigation equipment and larger, more expensive tools.