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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Fannie Lou Hamer’s Freedom Farm Cooperative

Dr. Priscilla McCutcheon talks with Earth Eats about what today's food movement might learn from the work of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.

Hamer and McCutcheon

It was about feeding people. Often when we think about farming cooperatives, we think about a very particular type of food, but at the very basic level of what she was trying to do, she was trying to feed people.

This week on our show we talk with Dr. Priscilla McCutcheon about her research on civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.  Alex Chambers talks with Dr. McCutcheon about Hamer’s Freedom Farm Cooperative in Rural Mississippi, and what today’s food movement might learn from Hamer’s work.

Priscilla McCutcheon is Assistant Professor of Pan African Studies and Geography at the University of Louisville. Her research is about African American farmers and food communities in the US South. She’s published articles on Muhammad Farms, a 1500-acre farm in Georgia owned and run by the nation of Islam, and a program at a black Protestant church in Atlanta that provides what she calls “emergency soul food.”

Her current research is about the great civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Farm Cooperative she started in 1969 in Sunflower County, Mississippi.

Hamer’s innovative model takes on food sovereignty, housing, land ownership, subsistence farming, education, nutrition and more–all in one geographic location.

Hamer’s “pig bank” involved investing in livestock, raising piglets, and distributing the grown pigs to families in the cooperative. If butchered and stored correctly, one pig could feed a household for a whole year.

Dr. McCutcheon discusses how today’s food movement might learn from Hamer’s work by not viewing food issues in isolation.

Listen to the podcast for the full conversation, plus, we’ve got a simple recipe from Chef Daniel Orr, looking toward the earliest of the spring crops.



Listen to Hamer’s speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Learn more about the Freedom Farm Cooperative here and here.

Music on this episode:

Fannie Lou Hamer,  and Breaths, Sweet Honey in the Rock

Ain’t It Funky Now, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Stories On This Episode

Radish and Butter Baguettes

Run your stale baguettes briefly under running water, pop them into a very hot oven for 5-8 minutes, and they'll taste freshly baked!

Salt Water Destroying Historic Farmland In Chesapeake Bay

Rising sea levels in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay have poisoned some of the oldest farmland in the nation’s colonial history.

Kayte Young

Kayte Young discovered her passion for growing, cooking, foraging and preserving fresh food when she moved to Bloomington in 2007. With a background in construction, architecture, nutrition education and writing, she brings curiosity and a love of storytelling to a show about all things edible. Kayte raises bees, a small family and a yard full of food in Bloomington’s McDoel Gardens neighborhood.

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