Why Shellie-Ann Kerns is Determined to Decolonize the Food System

Photo Credit: Shellie-Ann Kerns

When Shellie-Ann Kerns left her home in Jamaica to join her husband in Washington State, she wasn’t sure what to expect. They moved to his family farm in Gray’s Harbor and she immediately began imagining ways to make the land productive.

Family Roots

“Farming for me, it’s in my blood on my mother’s side, and from her great grandmother, all the way down. My father’s family is also agricultural,” she said. “It’s something that I understand how it works. Something that I’ve just always been passionate about. When I came here, it was winter. And I needed to plant something. I did some research and I saw that, ‘hey, you can plant garlic in the middle of winter.’”

Her first batch of garlic did so well that Kerns continued to plant garlic every winter. Now she’s taking her farming up a notch and making it a community affair.

For her, farming is about supporting her community on a basic level.

Decolonizing The Food System

“What’s really driving me is the ability to feed the community,” Kerns said. “I’m doing a community-supported agriculture program where people pay in advance for an entire summer’s worth of vegetables. So, every week I’ll make fresh deliveries of what’s in season.”

While Kerns has always been passionate about farming, the COVID-19 pandemic really emphasized the need for communities and families to have access to fresh, nutritious and affordable food.

“My mission is just decolonizing the food system. I’m trying to re-empower people, to grow their own food, and to be in control of their food. So, even though I’m a farmer, and I’m selling vegetables, I actively encourage everybody who can to grow their own food.”

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SOURCE: AfroTech, Colleen Williams

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