Former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod used her background in rural Georgia to underscore the importance of farming and healthy living. She was the keynote speaker at this year’s SoGreen Summit, which was held at Florida A&M.
“Growing up on the farm was a good life but all we could see is hard work,” Sherrod said. “The last thing I wanted to deal with is farming and agriculture after high school.”
She later had a change of mind when the tragic death of her father led her to realize that she could stay in the South and give up her plans to contribute to the change that was going on in the deep south.
Sherrod said she then began to work with farmers in the rural area by training them on how to farm peanuts, cotton, vegetables and much more, helping them increase their income.
Part of Sherrod’s speech stressed the importance of getting young people involved in farming and agriculture.
“We have to realize it is not just growing cotton and collard greens, its growing fresher foods for generations to come,” Sherrod said.
The summit titled, “Embracing Our Traditions of Partnership” was brought together to address the subject of agriculture for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the 1890 Land Grant institutions over the long term.
Sherrod spoke at the Southern Green Network during the opening ceremony located in Perry Paige Auditorium. She talked about her beginning stages of being a farm girl in the South.
Students, faculty and attendees gathered to hear Sherrod outline the history of farmers and landowners in the region and her personal experience in working with the important community.
Breshell Smith, 18, an accounting student from the Virgin Islands, came to the event for extra credit and left with extra knowledge about farming and agriculture.
“I now realize the importance of farming and how food just does not come from anywhere. It comes from the preparations of farming and agriculture,” Smith said.
Gilda Phills, coordinator for the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture, enjoyed Sherrod’s message to the audience.
“This is about getting rid of the presumption of farming and moving forward to going green, eating better and treating our Earth kinder,” Phills said.