“We love that more people are growing their own food. And we love it that more Black growers are coming together as a collective to work,” she says.
Lunsford-Evans says that connecting and collaborating with people has been hard to do this summer with everyone trying to stay as safe as possible. Still, she’s built a loyal customer base at a small weekend farmers market in Sheraden, and she has on occasion brought her produce to neighborhoods such as Clariton, south of the city, and to areas farther north, to Aliquippa in Beaver County, that don’t typically have access to fresh produce.
“I feel so secure when I come out here [to my garden], regardless of what’s happening,” says Lunsford-Evans. “If I don’t have any money. If I can’t go anywhere. If my kids are hungry, they can go out and grab strawberries or an apple. If they want to have a salad, they can get lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. That makes me feel good. So, that’s what I want for other people, too.”
TaRay Kelly says that, “we couldn’t have asked for a better first season or introduction to our business.” They have a fall crop of seedlings that will be ready for sale in the forthcoming weeks. “The show must go on. Everything is back in its rotation.”
In July, the sisters were able to get their Soil Sisters summer camp running, outdoors with face coverings and physical distancing measures in place to ensure best public health practices. They ran two Sunday sessions — for 10 kids 6 to 9 and 12 kids 10 to 13 — for five weeks at McKinley Top Park in Beltzhoover.
That next generation will “think beyond where we are,” Raynise Kelly says. “Where can you put yourself to make a profit? How does the chain of command work? What are the pieces in the system? I’m buying tons of pots, for example. I don’t know any Black-owned pot companies. Somebody needs to get out there and start making some pots, so I can buy pots from that company.”