Jumping Fences report – Land, food and racial justice in Britain

Feb 1, 2023

A new report has been released presenting research on the experiences of Black and People of Colour (BPOC) in the British farming and land-based sectors. 

The Jumping Fences Project is a collaborative research project between Land in Our Names, the Ecological Land Cooperative, and the Landworkers’ Alliance.

The project, led by researcher Naomi Terry, provides evidence-based findings on the experience of a wide-range of BPOC landworkers in Britain, and presents the barriers and challenges they have faced, and how they seek to overcome them.

The Jumping Fences report contains a comprehensive literature review and an analysis of semi-structured interviews with sixteen people who are currently working in the agricultural sector and land-based work in Britain.

A mushroom farmer (Credit: N Terry)

It presents the following key findings:

  • All participants experienced isolation in the sector, sometimes in quite traumatic ways.
  • There were many experiences of systemic or structural racialisation, for example being perceived as less competent, or being tokenised. 
  • Issues arose for participants based on pervasive societal narratives around who farming is for and what it looks like.
  • Intersectionality: experiences related to race are compounded by other dimensions of identity and oppression, such as gender, ability and class.
  • Participants found that land-work to be a source of healing in many cases
  • Development of a critical consciousness: participants felt motivated towards bringing diversity and justice into the farming sector.

“In the process of carrying out this research, and meeting BPOC farmers around the country, I came across a real range of experiences and perspectives on farming cultures and rural Britain” says lead researcher Naomi Terry 

“Some people are experiencing overt and aggressive racism, for example in a local pub, on work exchange farms, or at agricultural university. Many people experience the cumulative effects of microaggressions throughout their lives, and the impacts of working in isolation from their communities and culture of heritage.”

The Jumping Fences report also makes key recommendations for action, projects and policy to address the barriers faced by BPOC landworkers:

  • Shift narratives surrounding who farming is for and associated stigma
  • Change workplace culture on farms and in farming organisations
  • Develop strategies of support, both for emerging and for established BPOC farmers
  • Maintain and create spaces for healing and knowledge exchange
  • Build current networks whilst linking new networks in under-represented regions
  • Promote greater and more stable access to land

“There is clearly a need for more financial support, access to land and new entrant opportunities for people from racialised backgrounds in farming, but this alone will not address deeply entrenched structural inequalities” says Naomi Terry 

“We need to take actions that will encourage a shift in the narratives around who farming is for, and what it can look like.”

You can read the full report here.

A seaweed farmer (Credit: N Terry)
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