How a Black-owned farm in Windsor is building generational wealth

Aug 5, 2020

Every morning, James Minton wakes up to care for nearly 200 chickens on his farm in Windsor. He also watches over two dogs, named after Star Trek characters, a cow named Maribel, and nine great-grandchildren.

Before moving to Windsor, the 85-year-old farmer and his wife, Wilhelmina Minton, raised seven children in New York City. They now have 28 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild, many of whom have lived on and frequently visit the farm.

When Minton packed up his apartment in Harlem a decade ago and bought the 20-acre parcel that became Triple J Farm, he wanted a place his family could find refuge, whenever they might need.

“This will be here for ages,” Minton said. “As long as there’s a descendant from the Minton family, this place will be here for them.”

Black Americans own just 1% of rural land nationwide. While there are 58,000 farmers in New York, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 census, only 139 of them are Black.

Triple J Farm in Windsor sells eggs with a message of amassing generational wealth for Black people.
Credit Jillian Forstadt / WSKG

Minton’s grandson Jarrad Nwameme, who lives full-time in New York City, said access to land like his grandfather’s is an opportunity few Black Americans have. Because of this, Nwameme said the significance of maintaining the land with his grandfather goes beyond their family story.

“We’re also promoting the message of generational wealth. We’re promoting the message of buying land,” Nwameme said. “We’re promoting the message of Black is beautiful and Black excellence and being able to pass this down to generations to come.”

Each dozen eggs they sell comes with that message, with #BuyLand or #MakeFarmersBlackAgain stamped on the inside of each carton. The phrase is on hats Triple J Farm sells alongside their eggs at the Downtown Courtyard Market in Binghamton, too.

Land ownership is just one form of generational wealth, but between historic redlining, dispossession and lending discrimination, Black people face persistent barriers when it comes to accessing land. In 1910, Black farmers accounted for about 14 percent of the country’s farmers and held titles to 16-19 million acres of land, according to a report from progressive think tank Data for Progress.

Over the next century, however, Black farmers were dispossessed of nearly 98 percent of their land, continuously denied loans and credit from the USDA and other federal farm programs. The 1999 class-action lawsuit Pigford v. Glickman affirmed evidence of this systemic discrimination and resulted in a $1.25 settlement to Black farmers.

Credit Jillian Forstadt / WSKG

Land loss and structural racism continue to contribute to the country’s racialized wealth gap. White families have a net worth nearly 10 times greater than Black families, meaning they have less wealth to pass down. A 2010 study concluded inheritances account for the racial wealth gap more than any other demographic or socioeconomic factor.

Minton said he prioritized saving money, investing in the company where he worked and taking out an IRA. According to his grandchildren, Minton encourages his family to do the same with any extra money they have.

Minton used the money he put in stocks to buy the Windsor homestead, which will appreciate in value over time. Now, he wants to utilize that land so they can support their own.

Nwameme said he’s working to make the farm a family effort even the youngest generations can get involved in. That way, there will always be someone to care for the land, keep the business going and pass down the wealth Minton set aside for his family.

“I’m sitting here telling my little cousins like ‘Where’s your license?’ because we need help, we need people,” Nwameme said. “My little cousins – I’m training them as we speak.”

Minton and his family plan to expand the farm beyond eggs. They recently acquired ducks and turkeys, as well as chickens for a new flock. They want the land to pay for itself and provide for them, too.

When looking around at all he has cultivated so far, Minton said growing a farm is a lot like raising his family.

“When you put something down, you see something grow – it’s a lot like kids,” Minton said. “You have kids and you see them grow up and become something. It makes you feel good.”

With that idea at their core, eggs from Triple J Farm come with a lot of love.444