The sun is setting as Jennifer Taylor leaves her Killearn Growers Market on Friday in preparation for a two-hour drive to Jacksonville, then a 10-hour flight to Brazil. She loads her Lincoln Town Car with three pieces of luggage and rushes to Florida A&M to pick up two students who will assist her.
Upon their arrival in Rio de Janeiro, a chauffeur awaits Taylor and her students to be taken to Vicosa, Brazil. They are headed to meet with the faculty of the Federal University of Vicosa’s agriculture department.
Taylor developed the Small Farms Program at FAMU, which focuses on sustainable development.
“People are unaware of the local food resources that can impact their everyday healthy eating choices,” Taylor said.
She connects communities with their local small farmers to create the basis for a sustainable community. In addition to fresh produce at the various growers markets, Taylor provides workshops that teach local communities how to
create an alternative energy source: biofuels. She claims providing a way for communities to make their own energy creates sustainability and supports the local economy.
Taylor has addressed the need for a sustainable network locally and now wants to take her implemented program abroad. In this instance, the implemented program taken to Brazil will focus on the development of alternative energy. She met with small farmers and supporting organizations that are working with her to complete a successful demonstration that will be further implemented into the community.
“You have to love your local community in order to provide such an outlet, and Jennifer Taylor has that love,” said Royce Lovett, a musician who has played at her various Growers Markets.
Taylor said a lot of work is required at a grassroots level to connect the communities with their local farmers.
“I have spent hours driving through the counties looking…riding, through back roads to find the under-served small farmers…all over the state.”
“She is very passionate about her work,” Adam Taylor, Taylor’s son, said. “She would come home and speak non stop about the farmer she met and how she is going to get them involved in her program.”
“My Grandmother had a farm…some mornings she would wake us up early and we would spend hours looking for local farmers to buy all her produce,
milk, eggs, or whatever else she needed,” Taylor said.
She grew up around agronomy but was offered a scholarship to FAMU in the School of Music as a pianist.
“My mom wanted me to go into nursing and Daddy wanted me to go into
engineering,” Taylor said. “They gave me the FAMU catalog and said you going to FAM, I read the definition of agronomy, and I loved what it read.”
Taylor received her bachelor of science at FAMU in Agronomy and Soil Sciences. She received her master’s at Iowa State University in Agronomy. She received her doctorate at Virginia Tech in vocational location and technical education with an emphasis on teaching and learning through sustainable developments.
She studied the WorldBank’s Implemented Projects and United States Agency for International Development, which covered 35 countries, and more than a million small farmers around the world.
“Learning these relationships and successful tactics at the grass roots served as the basis for the development of the small farms program at FAMU,” Taylor said.
Taylor has written many grants and has received much notoriety nationally and internationally for her work.
Taylor is a member of the National Organic Standards Board, the Advisory Board for the Center of Biological Patrol and is a delegate for the United Nations.