Planting the Seeds for Agriculture in Indiana through PHA’s Good Food for All Program
John Jamerson and his family are deeply rooted in Indiana’s agriculture. With knowledge of agriculture that spans across multiple generations, the Jamerson-Greer family is on a mission to preserve current practices while creating new ones that uplift the health and wellness of future generations.
John’s father-in-law, Norman Greer, owns and operates Greer Farms in Lyles Station, a small farming community in Indiana where, pre-Civil War, free African Americans began buying land in the 1800s. Norman is the last known African American farmer farming land that has been in the family since before the Civil War. His work, and the town of Lyles, were featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as models of the African American farmer and community.
To honor his father-in-law’s passion and legacy in Indiana agriculture, John, his wife, Denise, and their son, DeAnthony, started an agriculture business called Legacy Taste of the Garden (LTOG) in 2017.
LTOG aims to close the gap between local producers and the local community by bringing fresh, high-quality produce to communities that lack access to healthy food. They also provide education to future generations about creating a healthy, sustainable, empowered life through agriculture.
In the summer of 2021, PHA partnered with LTOG to distribute Good Food for All produce boxes to families in Gary, Fort Wayne, and Cleveland. The produce boxes provided fruits and vegetables to families in historically under-resourced communities and provided an opportunity for LTOG to plant the seeds with youth for a future in agriculture. John and his family see the power local agriculture has in building health and community.
“This country became great because of agriculture,” says John. “But unfortunately there’s a stigma associated with it among younger generations. It’s our mission to remind youth not to run from the very thing that can benefit them the most. Everything comes from agriculture - from the food on your table to the rubber on the tires of your car.”
With PHA’s Good Food for All produce boxes, John and his organization were able to host cooking classes, teach kids about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and spark curiosity about farming.
“There’s a disconnect between what local farmers grow and what consumers in those local communities have access to,” according to John. “Most of the produce that is grown in Gibson County, where Lyles Station is located, is shipped out of town leaving a gaping hole of healthy food in this area.”
John hopes his work with PHA and other organizations will get more people excited about agriculture resulting in more growers. “I’m just a small farmer and can’t grow enough food to feed everyone,” says John. “My hope is to get more people involved in and educated about agriculture to ultimately get more growers. The more growers, the more food for everyone.”
People like John are uplifting the health and wellness of their community, ensuring we have much-needed Food Equity in this country, and creating a connection to the land that is a vital part of community heritage.