New Communities was founded in 1969 in Georgia, as the first community land trust in the United States. Run by Black growers, this 6,000 acre land trust was the largest Black-owned and operated parcel of land in the entire country. Crippling drought, compiled with systemic racism and biases for emergency loans, forced New Communities into foreclosure in 1985. These growers turned the loss of their land due to discrimination into a story of resilience and opportunity.
In 1997, Black farmers filed a class action lawsuit against the USDA, Pigford v. Glickman, for unfair allocation of farm loans and aid from 1981 to 1996. As part of that settlement, New Communities was awarded $12 million, which allowed for the purchase of Cypress Pond Plantation, a 1,638 acre property that was previously owned by the largest slaveholder in Georgia. Today, on this restorative piece of land, Cypress Pond Plantation grows 200 acres of pecans amongst 600 acres of other diversified crops including Satsuma oranges and Muscadine grapes, as well as 30 acres of vegetables to help with local food insecurity.
New Communities is led by Shirley Sherrod and a visionary staff and board, who have created a center for social justice and racial healing for Black farmers in Southern Georgia. Shirley has spent more than fifty years as a civil rights activist for Black farmers, working tirelessly to help rural, poor farmers in Georgia overcome inequalities that have persisted for generations. In 2010, she was wrongly removed from her former role as USDA Rural Development director for the state of Georgia. The aftermath made clear that her work has always been to advocate on behalf of poor farmers, both black and white, and she has continued to use her voice to call for accountability and equity at the USDA. IN addition to her leadership of New Communities, Shirley is a fierce advocate for Black farmers as the Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Project. All pecan sales support this visionary development project to improve production and quality, and increase the acreage of neighboring African American pecan growers.
New Communities offers:
Pecan halves, 30# cases
Pecan pieces, 30# cases