( ENSPIRE Lifestyle ) Airbnb Offers Opportunities To Black Farming Communities
ENSPIRE Contributor: Megan Grosfeld
Today, the New Communities Land Trust, an organization founded in 1969 to provide a safe haven for Black farmers, launched the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail – a collection of extraordinary stays and Experiences on Airbnb throughout southwest Georgia. Led by co-founder and USDA Equity Commissioner, Shirley Sherrod, the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail will support participating farmers in accessing the economic opportunities of local tourism through hosting while raising social awareness of the history and present-day needs of Black farming communities.
The New Communities Land Trust – the original community land trust in the US and a collective of more than 6,000-acres of farmland owned and operated by Black farmers – works to build generational wealth by supporting and educating its members on sustainable farming and agribusiness practices. The organization is headquartered at Resora, a former plantation near Albany that was originally owned by one of the largest slaveholder estates in Georgia and now represents and promotes racial reconciliation and healing.
“When New Communities acquired Resora over a decade ago, we envisioned it as a place where we could farm the land, nurture the minds of people, and empower our community. I look forward to the possibilities that this new partnership will bring to our members, the rich stories that will continue to be passed on through guests, and the type of relaxation and restoration that only being in nature can provide.” – Shirley Sherrod, co-founder of New Communities Land Trust and Resora
With more people now untethered from offices and able to travel everywhere, and stay for weeks, months, or even longer, many are spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, including rural communities. Since March 2020, more than 8,100 cities and towns around the world have welcomed their first Airbnb guests, including over 1,300 in the US – and guests have already planned stays in over 72,000 cities and towns this summer alone.
This has created new opportunities for Hosts living in rural communities, including farmers. In 2021, domestic nights booked by US guests on Airbnb for stays in rural areas grew 110 percent, compared to 2019 – with nights booked at farm stays increasing by 40 percent in 2019. Airbnb Hosts in rural counties earned $3.5 billion in 2021, and the typical farm stay Host in the US earned an average of over $10,300 in 2021.
Over the past century, Black farmers in America have lost over 12 million acres of farmland, a result of discriminatory policy and business practices that have denied Black farmers access to the resources needed to not only thrive but survive. As travelers continue to seek rural destinations, this offers an inherent opportunity to support Black farming communities – and through travel, learn the history and meet the farmers and families who are shepherding Black farming culture and agricultural traditions into the future. Through the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail, the New Communities Land Trust and Airbnb are both supporting their members in tapping into the rural tourism economy, as well as offering travelers a relaxing rural getaway and the ability to engage with the Black farming communities. Through the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism, guests will discover accommodations and activities at a variety of farms, ranging from tranquil retreats to one of the largest pecan growers in the South.
Bookable stays and Experiences include:
Stays across Resora, a 1,638-acre oasis getaway, and a historically significant site. With its majestic cypress trees, serene pond views, and early 19th-century mansion, this place is undoubtedly a step away from the norm. Resora is also home to a rich, active farm, along with housing an agricultural research lab for testing, site learning, and food production. Resora will welcome guests to three cabins and cottages across the property, all with stunning views of and access to its natural surroundings and amenities. Reflecting the history of Resora and the region, each home is named after notable members of the local civil rights movement.
A unique tour of Resora, taking guests through its rich agriculture and important role in the civil rights history of Southwest Georgia. Visitors will hop aboard the Bird Wagon and ride through all the highlights of the farm: from the 200-acre Pecan Orchard and Muscadine grape vineyard to the Bee Boxes and Duck Pond. And of course, since guests will be right in the heart of the citrus country, no tour would be complete without a stop by the Satsuma Orange Grove, to hear about the history of citrus production in the area —as well as learn about Mrs. Josie Miller, a hero of the Southwest Georgia Civil Rights Movement and for whom a historic building near the orchard is named. All throughout their time at Resora, guests will be treated to even more stories of the founders of New Communities and their work organizing for justice.
A special “Taste of the South” Experience at Vicks Estate, Farm & Fishery. Farmer Clinton Vicks will treat guests to a delicious barbecue, cooked over a charcoal and wood fire pit. Along with sharing these traditional techniques, guests will have the chance to wander through the farm’s market garden beds, picking the fresh greens and herbs to be enjoyed during their meal. And when lunch is served – after a game or two of corn hole – Clinton will share stories from four generations of farming history.
Guests can now book stays and Experiences on the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail at airbnb.com/swgatrail.
As part of this new partnership, Airbnb has made a donation to New Communities, in support of its larger mission to lift up Black farmers across Southwest Georgia.
For those in rural destinations interested in earning extra income by hosting, visit airbnb.com/host for more.