Local BIPOC Leaders Rejoice as New Land Stewards in an Act of Wealth Redistribution
by: Emily Ramelb, Communications + Development Manager
[Omaha, Neb.] - The land that has been home to City Sprouts’ Decatur Urban Farm for more than a decade, has been passed on to new owners Omaha Sunflower Cooperative (OSC) for the 2023 growing season and beyond.
OSC is a collective of BIPOC individuals committed to improving the urban agriculture system as a whole, with a focus on providing a safe space for BIPOC growers to sow seed, share wisdom, and earn livable wages. “We tried something different,” says Omaha Sunflower Cooperative Co-Founder Stephanie Finklea, “and now we get to build on it.”
In 2021, OSC Co-Founders Stephanie Finklea and Alex O’Hanlon (Blazing Star Seed Coop) led the cooperative to market with a pay-what-you-can model at the Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) Fair Deal Farmers Market, and held its first Fall Plant Sale fundraiser at the Bohemian Gardens. Since then, Omaha Sunflower Cooperative has exploded from two to 16 members in just one year.
In Spring of 2022, OSC and City Sprouts began working on the transfer of the property, located at 4016 Decatur St., and OSC kicked off their first growing season at the site. “After City Sprouts received the donation of several acres of land near Carter Lake, we decided to cease operations at our smaller farm site. We had hoped it would be a good fit for the work OSC was doing and were so excited that it came together. As a historically predominantly white-led organization, returning land to BIPOC ownership was important to us,” shared Katie Kresha, Executive Director of City Sprouts.
In November 2022, Omaha Sunflower Cooperative became permanent stewards of the Decatur land. “We want more nonprofits and businesses to see this and support economic justice by redistribution of wealth.”
OSC member Dex Gabriel-Woods, local recording artist and community educator, coordinates growing efforts at the Decatur Urban Farm. “I just want to make this a place for gardeners from the community, with all levels of experience, to grow food for their families or start their farm businesses,” says Gabriel-Woods, “This has a huge impact, so I’m grateful that City Sprouts chose public good over private profit. I would love to see other organizations follow suit.”
Omaha Sunflower Cooperative’s mission is to replenish, strengthen, and elevate the BIPOC community and the members of the cooperative with community-sustained nutritional and financial support.
Finklea concludes, “Ultimately, I want the co-op to be a business where other individuals can have ownership, and build an economy that circulates back into our community. We want more voices at the table.”
This year, the cooperative will hold plant sales on April 15 and May 13. To learn more about Omaha Sunflower Cooperative and ways you can get involved and offer support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.