Week 12: Earth Became Her Mother
Trauma and the Black farmer experience through the eyes of Amber Tamm
|Callan Burton-Shore||Nov 24, 2019||1|
This week the format is a bit different than usual. I am going to focus on one story about a woman who found family and mental stability by working with the earth. She also discusses the complex relationship she and other Black farmers have with the land. Keep an eye out for the articles interwoven throughout this story.
Healing Through Nature
As she explains on her website, Amber Tamm grew up in Brooklyn, NY with her mother and father. She loved to play outside but it was hard to find nature in the city. When she was 18, her father killed her mother and she was suddenly alone. After spending two months in silence, she found a job on a farm just outside NYC. For the 5 years since, Tamm has immersed herself in tending to the earth. Tamm's website states that “her time in silence helped her realize that when she [laid] her mother’s body in the earth, the earth literally became her mother.” She hopes her story can give hope to those with trauma.
92% of The farming community in the U.S. is white, and 86% is male. As a Black woman, Tamm often feels isolated on the farms she works on. In an interview I conducted with Tamm she said, “I walked into it already understanding that it’s going to be predominantly white…I didn’t walk into it expecting to be treated equally.” With the movement to make the outdoors more inclusive, there must be a subsequent movement to make farming more accessible to people of color. In a piece from Inside the Rift, Tamm said, “Through farming, Black people are breaking ancestral trauma. Our disconnect from Earth is very deep due to black slavery in America.”
When Tamm is not farming she spends her time advocating for climate action and food justice. Tamm knows that in the U.S., healthy and organic food is substantially more expensive and cooking these foods often takes longer. Programs like SNAP allow low-income families to buy produce and can be accessed at most NYC farmers markets, but much work still needs to be done. Tamm says in a piece from Come to Life, “My biggest point is that this food system was built on imperialism and slavery.” Additionally, there are barriers for Black people in urban areas to have healing time outdoors. In an article for Medium, Gabrielle Evangeline discusses how Black people are often forced to “miss out” on the health benefits that nature provides.
Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you are able to find healing in nature this week.