2019 Black History Month Celebration

February is Black History Month, and this year, ABC30 profiles local farmer, Will Scott Jr.

Scott Jr. says farming is in his DNA.

The 78-year-old Navy veteran and former engineer was born on a farm and owns 45 acres in Fresno County.

The 78-year-old Navy veteran and former engineer was born on a farm and owns 45 acres in Fresno County.

His father and grandfather were sharecroppers in Oklahoma.

"Working for the soil it's really spiritual too because we came from the soil really," he said.

Scott grows black-eyed peas, mustard greens, okra and other crops popular in southern states. He takes them to farmer's markets in Fresno and Oakland where he says there is a demand for his vegetables.

The family moved to California after World War II just in time to cut grapes, earning 5 cents a tray.

The oldest of fifteen children, Scott was encouraged by his parents to get out of the fields and obtain an education. He did but farming came calling again after he retired.

Scott is the President of the African American Farmers of California and shares his knowledge with African American students in the Central Valley.

Scott says California has nearly 80,000 farms and there are only 500 African American farmers in the state. Most are small farmers like himself.

"He runs a 15-acre demonstration and education farm to help new farmers get hands-on experience. This country was built on small farmers," he said.

He teams up with the West Fresno Family Resource Center for the Sweet Potato Project. He's helped dozens of African American students grow yams and grow a love for working the land. Some of the students were able to sell their produce to Fresno Unified.

Scott says most African Americans were told to get away from farming because of the connotation to slavery. He says food brings people together and believes African Americans can play a part in agriculture.

"Knowledge isn't something that belongs to a particular group. It's something that should be shared," he said. "If you're a farmer you're going to learn something every year. You either learn on your own or Mother Nature or Father Time is gonna teach you," said Scott.

Scott will continue to farm as long as he can and along the way, take the time to help others.

"I was raised by parents who told me I need to give back and I'm supposed to be kind and loving to other people," Scott said.

ABC30 thanks our partners below for helping us celebrate Black History month.
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