Supporting our Rural and Urban Communities
Wealth Watchers Inc. is a HUD certified Housing Counseling and community development organization based in Northeast Florida. Wealth Watchers provides small business development, training, lending and real estate development services available throughout Florida and Georgia. Comprehensive Rural Opportunity Program (C.R.O.P.) is an initiative of Wealth Watchers Inc. designed to enhance the coordination of outreach, technical assistance and education efforts to reach veterans, farmers and ranchers in the rural and urban areas with an emphasis on those that are socially disadvantaged. The organization assists them with successfully acquiring, owning, operating and retaining farms and ranches and increasing participation in the full range of USDA programs and services.
Wealth Watchers Helping Those Discriminated by USDA
Jacksonville, Fla. Aug. 1
Financial assistance is now available for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) farm lending program. Congress has provided $2.2 billion in assistance. Wealth Watchers Inc., through its Comprehensive Rural Opportunity Program (C.R.O.P.), is providing support and education to those who have been impacted. Members of the nonprofit will host town hall meetings and help farmers, ranchers and landowners with the free application process.
“We designed C.R.O.P. to enhance the coordination of outreach, technical assistance and education for farmers and ranchers of color. We work with them as they acquire, own and operate their land. We are committed to ensuring there is equality in the agricultural industry,” said Carrie Davis, Wealth Watchers chief executive officer/president. “We will provide resources and hold special meetings to help those who meet the eligibility requirements for this funding.”
To qualify for the USDA financial assistance program, individuals:
Members of the C.R.O.P. team will provide assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who qualify. The deadline to apply is Oct. 31.
Beauty of the Soil: Natural Cosmetics & Personal Care was a success! Local teens learned how agriculture and natural cosmetics intersect. They visited an urban farm in the New Town Success Zone. They were able to connect the dots to see what is grown can be used as skin care products. The girls had fun making natural cosmetics such as lip scrub, soap and lemongrass infused oil.
Wealth Watchers is continuing its partnership with small farmers and ranchers through its Comprehensive Rural Opportunities Program (C.R.O.P.). Seed Time Harvest Farms, one of those partners, is seeing more growth in the new year.
Cetta Barnhart, founder of the community supported agriculture (CSA) service, provides fresh produce with delivery from farmers in the north Florida and south Georgia region. She came up with this idea after selling extra fruits and vegetables from her father-in-law’s farm. A thriving business began in 2012.
Barnhart believes in giving back. She donated more than 100 bags of collard greens to Adrian Gentry and Wealth Watchers’ “The Grateful Giveaway” last year. This event ensured families in Jacksonville enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday together. Barnhart also worked with the Wealth Watchers team on product development and distribution practices for juices she now sells.
Ed Gaston, Wealth Watchers COO, helped her develop a budget and language for the distribution and placement of tonics such as Genie in a Bottle. (Barnhart’s creation is a health tonic made with natural ingredients that include ginger and turmeric based in coconut water.)
Barnhart has been able to expand Seed Time Harvest Farms’ services to include moving large quantity of crops from local farmers. Some of the crops are greens (collards, mustards and turnips), lettuce and cabbage. It has been a good year so far. But Barnhart believes collaboration with other farmers is what continues to makes Seed Time Harvest successful and unique. She worked with 11 farmers/growers in 2022 and plans to work with more in 2023. She is looking for organic and traditional growers in Maddison, Gadsden, Jefferson and Leon Counties. She would like to work with farmers who have less than 50 acres. “This will give small businesses opportunities.”
Barnhart also collects seasonal produce from local farmers that is harvested at the peak of ripeness. Those fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, greens, okra, kale, onions, peppers, butternut squash and more. They all have high nutritional value because they are delivered within 24 hours of harvesting. According to Barnhart, this is a major benefit of using Seed Time Harvest Farms and its collaboration with organic and traditional growers. This shows farm to table is really the best way to eat fruits and vegetables.