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Why Black Farmers Are Teaming Up with Airbnb

Black farmers in southwest Georgia have partnered with homestays giant Airbnb to offer accommodations on farms to tourists. 

The effort is a collaboration that was spearheaded by the organization New Communities Land Trust. Under the newly launched Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail, participating Black farms will offer a “collection of extraordinary stays and experiences on Airbnb,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Black farmer standing in crop field. Photo by Ariel Skelley. Getty Images.

The New Communities Land Trust was founded in 1969, during the civil rights movement, to support Black farmers. The grassroots organization is a nonprofit based in Albany, Georgia, and founded as a collective farm. New Communities is widely recognized as the original model for community land trusts in the U.S., according to its website.

The group’s partnership with Airbnb will offer economic opportunities to Black farmers from the local tourism industry through hosting.

Black farmers in the U.S. are struggling and dwindling. Just 1.4 percent of farmers identify as Black or mixed race compared to about 14 percent 100 years ago. Today, these farmers represent less than 0.5 percent of total U.S. farm sales, according to a new study done by McKinsey & Company.

The company conducted the first study to quantify the present-day value of the monetary loss of land for Black farmers. 

The study found that Black farmers in the United States lost a whopping $326 billion worth of acreage during the 20th century. And the $326 billion figure is a conservative estimate, the study authors pointed out.

Under the Airbnb partnership, guests will have an opportunity to experience a tour of the 1,638-acre former plantation Resora, and “Taste of the South” at Vicks Estate, Farm & Fishery in Albany, the AJC reported.

“When New Communities acquired Resora over a decade ago, we envisioned it as a place where we could farm the land, nurture the minds of people and empower our community,” New Communities co-founder and USDA Equity Commissioner Shirley Sherrod said in a release about the project.

“I look forward to the possibilities that this new partnership will bring to our members, the rich stories that will continue to be passed on through guests, and the type of relaxation and restoration that only being in nature can provide,” she added.    

As part of Airbnb’s new partnership with New Communities, Airbnb has made a donation to the nonprofit to support its mission to empower Black farmers across Southwest Georgia, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta. 

“Travel has long opened new doors to discovery — and the very nature of hosting lends itself to telling stories, sharing traditions and understanding history firsthand,” said Catherine Powell, global head of hosting at Airbnb. “We are so pleased to launch the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail with Shirley and the New Communities Land Trust, not only to introduce these families to hosting, but also the global Airbnb community to the past, present, and future of Black farming.”

Airbnb hasn’t had the most outstanding track record when it comes to diversity.

There have been countless cases of either Black guests or Black Airbnb owners being discriminated against. In 2020, the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlackwent went viral due to the numerous racial discrimination incidents involving the company. The Congressional Black Caucus even reached out to the CEO of Airbnb, to urge the company to address this problem.

As a response, Airbnb hired a task force that included former attorney general Eric Holder; Laura Murphy, the director of the ACLU’s legislative office and a number of academics, Fast Company reported.

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