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Farmland Restoration

Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers & Restoring the Heritage of Farming in Pembroke Township

Pembroke Township, located in Illinois, was once home to the largest Black farming community north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Established in the 1860s by runaway slaves Pap and Mary Eliza Tetter, Pembroke Township thrived as a Black agricultural hub.

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Black Oaks Center Co-Founder, Akin Carter (left) & Shangobunni Base, Basu Natural Farms (right)

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During World War II, the Black farmers of Pembroke played a crucial role by growing hemp for the U.S. Navy. They also provided food for the Black population migrating to Chicago, contributing to the development of a local food infrastructure that included on-farm u-pick orchards, fields, and ag tourism. These families were dedicated stewards of the land, practicing organic and biodynamic farming long before these terms gained popularity. Consequently, this region boasts abundant ecological richness and biodiversity, which has sadly diminished in many other parts of our country. For more information about our land and history, please click here.

Unfortunately, today less than 50% of this land is owned by descendants of the original farming families. In collaboration with the Savanna Institute, USDA/The Conservation Fund, and Pembroke Township, we are actively working towards the restoration of at least 1,000 acres of farmland.

Land Retention

On the verge of losing family land in Pembroke?

Want to keep the family land in Pembroke for farming?

We can help!

Access to USDA Programs

Register your farm or ranch through the Farm Service Agency to get access to Natural Resources & Conservation Service applications to upgrade the viability of your farm or ranch


Increase Farm Ranch Viability

Get an assessment of your land to see how to get the best return on the investment


Farmer Training, Technical Assistance & Mentoring

Have land but don't know how to farm?

Don't have land and want to learn how to farm?

Want to learn how to farm profitably in Pembroke?


Click the images below for PDF brochure

BOC’s holistic youth strategy combines community education, capacity building, organizing, and direct service with emphasis on the following:

  • Sharing knowledge and skills through trainings, apprenticeships, technical assistance and coursework in regenerative agriculture

  • Offering apprenticeship programs for permaculture and agroforestry training to ensure the next generation have  the best practices of succeeding in a post-carbon future

  • Providing local school support in student-led regenerative landscaping and place-based engagement

  • Conducting summer camp programs and hosting youth groups to introduce concepts of agroforestry, eco-advocacy and working lands

  • Providing business training to young farmers while exposing them to profitable markets that support equitable food development and distribution to communities across the region

  • And, helping youth organize community and become ecological and cultural stewards

Empowering Heirs of Heirs

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Descendents of the original Pembroke farming families face levels of unprecedented poverty, political, environmental threats to their land legacies. Black Oaks Center is a vessel for the needed advocacy, training and economic support that strengthen the capacities of the vulnerable of this independent farming township. Black Oaks Center prioritizes supporting the next generation farmers of Pembroke through employment and skill building.

Black Oaks Center Co-Founder, Akin Carter (left) & Shangobunni Base, Basu Natural Farms (right)

BOC PFR brochure - separate images _Page_2.jpg
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