Week 12: Earth Became Her Mother

Trauma and the Black farmer experience through the eyes of Amber Tamm 

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.

"I love the silent sound of a seed falling into soil, the smell of chamomile flowers in the morning, I love the blue green brilliance of the rye grasses, the sacred world I go into when peering into the center of a peony. I love the snap sound of harvesting a head of lettuce, I love the layer of dirt that forms across my skin, almost like a layer of sunscreen, a natural form of protection." - @ambertamm

Read about the inspiring female farmers feeding New York City via link in profile. 🌿 #regenerativemovement

📷 @sydwoodward_
November 20, 2019

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. 

Alienation

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.”

Taking Action

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. 

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Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you are able to find healing in nature this week.