While growing up in a small rural community in Harris County, GA, Kelvin Graddick noticed the inequalities that exist in local food systems and related economic opportunities. He started volunteering with community development and social service organizations in high school, and continued these endeavors in college with AGAPE (All God’s Anointed People Evangelizing) and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Kelvin’s family is a lifetime member of the West Georgia Farmers Cooperative, founded around 1968. It’s a community member-based cooperative with a goal of bringing African Americans and low income whites together under a cooperative structure to grow and sell fruits and vegetables. WGFC thrived for almost 30 years under the leadership of Kelvin’s family, but participation has dwindled in recent years.
Through news articles, church discussions, and community events, Kelvin and others have revived interest in the WGFC food system work. Kelvin intends to manage the co-op in a manner that will build a sustainable food system, promote healthy living, and build cultural and economic knowledge. Kelvin will use the princicples of economic, cultural, and ecological cooperation to prepare people to take advantage of expanded opportunities in food production and distribution. Kelvin plans on using his technical background, combined with fresh, and innovative ideas from others in his generation, to build interest in revitalizing rural communities. He also hopes to help NYFC gain new perspective on southern, rural farming communities and African American farming communities.