The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) has provided a $1 million award to Tuskegee University to create an endowment to advance organic agriculture and farming practices through the university’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS). This award matches the $1 million investment by Clif Bar & Company, a leading maker of organic energy foods with a longtime commitment to sustainable agriculture practices, for a total Tuskegee University Endowment of $2 million.
Clif Bar & Company chose Tuskegee University for this endowment because of their demonstrated commitment to, and leadership in, organic agriculture in the Southeastern U.S., including their partnerships with other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to advance organic practices.
The growth of organic farming lacks regional and racial diversity, which is compounded by funding inequality. A 2022 Forbes article outlined significant funding disparities at the nation’s Black land-grant universities compared to their predominantly white counterparts over the last three decades. Furthermore, the latest U.S. Census of Agriculture indicates that of the 30,909 certified organic farms in the U.S., only 5% are Black-owned. Through financial inequality and a lack of representation, farmers in the Southeastern U.S. have lacked access to organic agriculture research that could increase production and improve soil health.
The award will fund future opportunities and activities that increase the adoption of organic farming practices in the Southeast and increase equity in organic farming. It will support the work of the university’s plant and soil science professors and researchers, Dr. Joe K. Kpomblekou and Dr. Franklin Quarcoo, in developing a network of organic research among Southeast academic institutions, with a focus on HBCUs.
Founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee has a long history of innovation in agriculture, including the contributions of George Washington Carver who worked at the university most of his adult life and is known for his work on soil chemistry and crop rotation, and his commitment to support Southern Black farmers. Today, the university has a center for Plant Biotechnology Research which is training scientists from around the world and has one of the first centers funded by NASA to develop a technology for growing food in space during human space missions.
Clif Bar has been a champion for the planet since its founding 30 years ago, which includes a longtime commitment to sustainable agriculture practices including organic, having purchased more than 1.4 billion tons of organic ingredients since 2003.