At Sanctuary Farms on Detroit’s East Side, Jøn Kent and a team of volunteers use cardboard and paper bags to starve invasive weedy plants instead of using herbicides; they plant marigolds and lavender amid squash, melons, and collards instead of using pesticides; and they turn food scraps into lush, clean compost.

Kent and his business partner, Jean Parker, wanted to grow fresh produce for their working-class community, which Kent describes as a “food desert.” They also wanted to make sure their farming practices didn’t contribute to the area’s water pollution crisis.

“In Michigan, we have been left with polluted waters in Black neighborhoods from Benton Harbor to Flint,” he said. So Kent and Parker, who launched Sanctuary Farms in 2020, turned to regenerative agriculture practices, like alternating flowers with crops to attract pollinators and repel pests, to have a positive impact on the environment.

“The goal here is to really create a food-sovereign, energy-efficient, zero-waste place, so our community knows it’s possible to live off the land,” said Kent.

Many young farmers share Kent’s commitment to sustainability, according to a new report from the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). In a survey of over 10,000 farmers across the country, 86% of respondents under 40 said they used regenerative farming practices, which the survey defined as “an approach to farming and ranching that builds healthy soils and ecosystems, supports climate-resilient farms and communities, and addresses inequity in agriculture.”

Of course, as the survey notes, regenerative farming practices aren’t new. Indigenous communities—many of whom were pushed off the land they stewarded for millennia—innovated and practiced these farming techniques for thousands of years.

“Young farmers today find motivation to farm in environmental conservation; anti-racism; and creating healthy, food-secure, and climate-resilient communities,” said Vanessa García Polanco, NYFC’s policy campaign director.

Read the full article about supporting young farmers of color by Britny Cordera at YES! Magazine.