Wisdom and Cherie Jzar’s family farm grew from a modest homestead to the creation of Deep Roots CPS Farm in Charlotte, NC. What started as a quest for self-sufficiency blossomed into a thriving urban farming business. Facing the challenges of urban agriculture as non-traditional farmers, they built Deep Roots to grow crops and provide resources and support for a diverse community of growers. Join us to discover their story of empowerment, sustainability, and fostering a new generation of urban farmers on Search and Replace.
More about today’s guest:
- Get to know Wisdom & Cherie Jzar at their website deeprootscpsfarm.com.
- Connect with Wisdom & Cherie via their Facebook and Instagram.
Explore these related stories:
- Gain deeper insights into the Urban Agriculture industry from the USDA, where they assist urban, small-scale, and innovative producers with growing, processing and selling.
- Learn how growing food in cities lessens the dependence of urban populations on distant food supplies, while growing food locally can reduce emissions from transport, processing and packaging.
- Discover how consumers across the country are getting creative when it comes to their produce.
- Want to get started with Urban Agriculture for yourself? Here are top tips for vegetable gardening for beginners.
- New rising trend: cities are transforming empty office spaces for new use by growing vertical farms.
[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.
[00:00:10] Joe Taylor, Jr: What if you want to share something you love with your neighbors, but it gets so big it turns into a business? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.
It all started when Wisdom and Cherie Jzar decided to figure out how they could use some of their land to become a little less dependent on grocery stores.
[00:00:34] Wisdom Jzar: We started out as a homestead and wanted to see if we can raise our own fruits and vegetables and that spread into beekeeping and chickens and just trying to see how well we could sustain ourselves, you know, just in case if something ever came down. Could we make it happen?
[00:00:52] Cherie Jzar: But mostly out of a desire to provide healthy, fresh food for our family. And when we started to grow, remember, we built like a four by four raised bed.
[00:01:06] Wisdom Jzar: Yeah.
[00:01:06] Cherie Jzar: And we started small. And then it just, sort of, felt good, it was building time for our family, we had conversation, and it tasted good. And then we just started doing more and learning more and growing.
[00:01:24] Joe Taylor, Jr: Their little experiment kept growing, and growing.
[00:01:27] Cherie Jzar: I remember when we grew enough not just to support ourselves, our family, but to share with neighbors. Like, we had way too much. And that felt even better. And so that’s what prompted us to wanna do it in a bigger way, to be a business and to have more space to do what we love to do because of that.
[00:01:48] Wisdom Jzar: We seen a need. I mean, we seen how what we were doing for ourselves and our family could be expanded into the community. And so we got into it and then eventually made a business and started that business and then added on to the business model. You know, ’cause when we got into the space as a business, very quickly we realized it was not many like us in this space.
And so our trajectory and our reasoning, our mission, kind of added on and so we were not just doing this as a business to be able to sustain ourselves and our family, but to be a, an advocate and inspiration and a voice in this space for people who look like us. And so that’s where Deep Roots, kind of, shaped up.
[00:02:35] Cherie Jzar: Yes. That’s our tagline, is deeply rooted in community. Even know we’re a farm.
[00:02:40] Joe Taylor, Jr: That farm, the Deep Roots CPS farm, now takes up a total of seven acres inside the boundaries of one of America’s largest cities. But it started with just one property.
[00:02:52] Cherie Jzar: We started growing out on our homestead, which was a home in Northwest Charlotte, which was like less than an eighth of an acre. We increased because we reached out to our network and friends and associates in our network allowed us to grow in space that they owned or had some sort of control over. But to be viable and sustainable, and not only do you need land in the city that’s available for farming, but the people who have the skills, the capacity, the passion to do it, need to have access to that.
It is difficult for farms to be birthed in the city. What we see for the future is urban farming will be more important as we deal with global warming, climate changes, the need for communities to have resiliency so that they can have food that’s closer to the people who are eating and consuming it.
[00:03:41] Joe Taylor, Jr: Cherie says that urban farmers face a distinct set of challenges because they’re not part of a tradition of typical rural agriculture.
[00:03:49] Cherie Jzar: Because we haven’t, we’re not a traditional farmer. Right? We’re not on a century old farm; somebody’s gotten an inherited generation After generation. We didn’t have that network. We didn’t have anyone to help us with resources when we didn’t have it. Farming takes a lot of large equipment when you have a lot of land. We didn’t have that or to know how to navigate the USDA or Farm Service Agency.
So we started that with growers and beginner growers, with priority to black and brown folk because we are black and we know how significantly hard it was to navigate spaces because of that. And so we are just finding that to just be a wonderful beginning. There is a strong need for everyone, no matter who you are,
no matter your race, to really have a community and know without having to get in the good old boys network or, you know what I’m saying, know somebody and know somebody. Well, here’s the space that we created for that purpose. So I think it’s really been beneficial. We’ve had a seed swap, we’ve had on-farm learning we even shared book bread together, had meal. It was pretty awesome. We’ve talked about advocating.
[00:05:02] Wisdom Jzar: Just trying to encourage people to grow on their own. You know, giving them also the resources that you need to make minimal work on their part as possible. Because we understand that being connected to your food, and ultimately makes you connected to the Earth. Makes you, kind of, see that you’re responsible for more.
[00:05:23] Joe Taylor, Jr: And while Cherie and Wisdom are plenty busy growing food for their community, they’re even more excited about growing a new generation of urban farmers.
[00:05:32] Cherie Jzar: And so part of our business structure, we have an apprentice program. So we want more people who are, have the passion just like we do, to actually join our apprentice program and learn the skills to be farmers so that they can go out into a urban space or roof space, wherever, and have their own farm business and grow food.
[00:05:53] Wisdom Jzar: You can do it. And we have a scene that we actually posted outside right before we go into our fields. It’s by George Washington Carver. It says, ‘Do what you can with what you have and do it now.’ And the concept basically embodies the idea that take what you do have and don’t wait.
Start something simple. Start with something that you love, that you eat, and work from there because it’s a process. And be ready and be okay with mistakes. Give yourself a break and start small. That’s the biggest thing.
[00:06:26] Cherie Jzar: I think just like with anything, if you are really passionate about it, it doesn’t really feel as hard as that sounds. Right.
[00:06:36] Wisdom Jzar: Fulfilling.
[00:06:36] Cherie Jzar: It’s a fulfilling place to be in when you know that your hard work ends in reaping this beautiful harvest, or even watching it grow.
[00:06:45] Joe Taylor, Jr: That’s Wisdom in Cherie Jzar, founders of the Deep Roots Community Planning Solutions Farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ve got links to their work in our show notes and on our website at searchandreplace.show.
Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe taylor, Jr.
[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.
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