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SPRING • March 2018 • 1st Edition • V isit us online @

WCSHC COMMITMENT TO HELP SAVE RURAL AMERICA The following two articles below describes Winston County Self Help Cooperative’s efforts in reconnecting the Robbins’ sisters with the natural resources. WCSHC started working with the Robbins’ sisters in 2016. Initially, we met on the Robbins’ property site and discussed a plan of action. The first step of the action plan included visiting the local USDA office, to obtain farm and track numbers. Additionally, Allen McReynolds, WCSHC Ag Business Management Specialist, suggested, they should consult with a surveyor to define property lines. A year and a half later, Allen’s suggestion came to fruition with assistance from our partners including the U. S. Endowment, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U. S. Forest Service. WCSHC extends gratitude to our partners, for helping to bring this project to reality.

WCSHC Helping the Robbins’ Family Reconnect

(C) Robbins’ Family with (L) WCSHC’s, Ag Bus. Mgmt. Specialist, Allen McReynolds & (R) Team Leader, Frank Taylor

By Frank Taylor Email:

Around 1910 Mississippi congregated more than 32,000 African American Farmers who owned thousands of acres of land. Landownership for black families determined their autonomy through agrarian practices of planting crops. Farmers planted corn, cotton, peas, ribbon cane and other staple vegetables to feed their families and

generated income to pay for rudimentary needs. However, this way of life did not provide opportunities for African Americans to thrive economically, nor participate in the American democracy as full-fledged citizens. Mississippi used “Jim Crow Laws” to relegate and dehumanize African Americans, which helped stimulate the great out-migration of African Americans into the northern states. This plight caused unintended consequences for family members who

WINSTON COUNTY SELF HELP COOPERATIVE 3450 Shannon Dale Drive • Jackson, MS 39212 Phone: 601-291-2704 • Email: • Web: “Saving Rural America”

remained and tried to harness livelihoods from the natural resources. The gripping hands of “Jim Crow Laws” commingled with local lending institutions, the judicial system, and large plantation owners, deprived African American Farmers of access to timely capital needed to plant crops. Additionally, this process eroded and dispossessed thousands of black families of their inheritance after being fought for and earned through the loss of life. This dreadful time in history continues to permeate hurt in 2018. However, this part of the article will focus on reconnecting or reacquainting the Robbins’ siblings with their natural resource (ancestral land). Gwen Robbins Pratt said, “Our parents generated opportunities for us to earn an education by managing this property where we stand today. Our parents planted corn, peas, beans and other vegetables to feed the family. Additionally, they sold forest productions to supplement our family income. Our parents worked under extremely adverse conditions to leave this legacy of land. Therefore, we will honor our parents’ commitment to learn WCSHC Helping the Robbins’ Family , Continued on page 2


WCSHC Helping the Robbins’ Family, Continued from page 1 how to properly manage our property”. Gwen attended a natural resources meeting sponsored by the Mississippi Minority Farmers Alliance and learned about services through various agencies to promote stewardship practices. After conferring with several service providers Gwen contacted the Winston County Self Help Cooperative for technical assistance. WCSHC staff and registered forester met with Robbins’ Sisters on their family property located in Louisville, MS. Frank Taylor, WCSHC Team Leader, discussed parameters of obtaining services through USDA and state agencies. He instructed Gwen to carry a copy of their deeds to the local Farm Service Agency Service to request assistance in updating their Farm Tract eligibility information (AD 1026 Certification on Highly Erodible Land) and their AGI- Adjusted Gross information. “You should ask for current maps of property to help define property lines and location.” Allen McReynolds, WCSHC Ag Business Management Specialist,discussed alternative income opportunities such as hunting leases and none timber forest production and land surveying. Freddie Davis, registered forester conversed on various management practices. Davis will perform a thorough inventory of forestland and develop a subjective forest management plan. This tool will provide guidance in developing individual conservation plans with assistance from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and implement practices through Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). After completion of this hands-on session, Gwen felt energized and fired up to recapture the Robbins’ Family glory.


In their Own Words

Gwendolyn Robbins Pratt and Florine Robbins Stewart

By The Robbins’ Sisters

Good News! On March 2, 2018, we had two separate land parcels surveyed with assistance from the Winston County Self Help Cooperative, on Yates Road in Winston County. Mr. Frank Taylor and Mr. Allen McReynolds of Winston County Self Help Cooperative (WCSHC) have been advising us on the benefit of ‘Land Management’ for the Henry Clay Robbins Sr. Estate for the last two years. At St. James Presbyterian Church @9:40 a.m. Frank Taylor, Allen McReynolds, surveyors Jason Hill and Caleb McKee of Kemp Associates were there waiting for our arrival. Mr. Taylor gave us the description of our properties and told us to get ready for a lot of walking. On a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day, we started our trek at 10:00 a.m. Jason Hill and Caleb McKee explained to us about where and how the T-Posts would be positioned on our land. They explained that plastic ties were utilized for easy identifying markings. Mr. Hill, Mr. McKee, my husband Howard Pratt, my sister Florine Robbins Stewart and I walked the entire property lines, observing the T-Posts and plastic ties put in place on both surveyed parcels. Also, we had pictures made at different

locations. Those hills bought many beautiful memories of our childhood. We told stories about fishing, carrying water from the spring, riding the mules and the horse in the woods, the Dig Branch, picking blackberries and Muscadines and the Witch Field. On behalf of myself, husband and sister, we would like to thank Mr. Jason Hill and Mr. Caleb McKee of Kemp Associates, who were very professional and did a great job installing the T-Post and markings on our properties. Although a lot of ground had to be covered, we were finished before 12:00 p.m. Furthermore, we shall keep in touch with Mr. Taylor and Mr. McReynolds on utilizing the property for ‘Forestry Management’ to keep the Robbins Legacy going for future generations. Thank you, Mr.Taylor and Mr. McReynolds, we appreciate you very much. Also, thank you, Mr. John Jones, of Mississippi Minority Farmers Alliance (MMFA) for your guidance. Gwendolyn Robbins Pratt and Florine Robbins Stewart


Do you know your Land Boundaries?

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According to history, land surveying originated from Egypt, during ancient times. The use of land surveying, was pivotal due to the annual floods burying or destroying boundary markers. Therefore, to re-established landownership of the fields, scribes, the educated professional class in Ancient Egypt, supervised surveys using their practical and mathematical skills. Ancient Egypt as we have studied it, is no longer in existence. However, the significant use of land surveying has not changed in modern times. That said, one of our driving forces within the work of the Winston County Self Help Cooperative, to encourage families, to get surveys completed of their natural resources, which enhances their ability to manage their property. Unfortunately, all over the United States, we hear of countless stories of land disputes turning fatal, due to unmarked land boundaries. Questions, if asked, could you precisely calculate where your property begin and end? Do you know who may and may not have the right onto your property? Frankly, saving a life or lives should prompt individuals/families to seek assistance from a civil engineer to perform a survey. Yet there are other benefits in completing a land survey and they are as follows; Establish Boundary Lines: this is extremely important when erecting a fence or installing a driveway. Determine Gores, Overlaps and Gaps: survey determines

discrepancies between your property line and the adjoining property. Rights-of-Way, Easements, and Abandoned Roads: survey will show if your land blocks you neighbor’s access to the road and conditions imposed by the law reflected in your title report. Ponds, Rivers, Creeks, Streams, Wells, and Lakes: survey will report visible or surface waters only. Joint Driveways, Party Walls, Rightof-Support, Encroachments, Overhangs, or Projections: a survey will show if you are obligated by law to support your neighbor’s driveway through the maintenance of yours. Existing Improvements:survey will determine if dwelling is up to code. Water, Electric, Gas, Telephone and Telegraph Pipes, Drains, Wires, Cables, Vaults, Manhole, Covers, Catch Basins, Lines and Poles: a survey will reveal if any of the above items exist on property. Potentially granting companies access to the property. Cemeteries: family cemeteries are common. A survey will show the location of a cemetery. Access, Ingress and Egress: a survey will specify the ingress and egress to an open public street. Zoning Classification: survey will state zoning classification. This is important to help ensure proper use of one’s land. With all the above information, if you are considering having your land surveyed, but unsure of the next steps, please contact the Winston County Self Help Cooperative for assistance.





SAVE THE DATE AUGUST 16th - 18th, 2018

Reception & Award Ceremony in Birmingham workshops, demonstrations, membership meeting, & fish fry in Epes, Alabama For more information go to: The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is a nonprofit, tax exempt organization

Please stand up and be counted. Rural America needs you to return your census form on today. If you need assistance call



…is a monthly sustainable agriculture workshop targeting small farmers, beginning farmers and agricultural professionals….

This month’s topic: GOATS AND SHEEP

Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm 1525 Mills Lane Frankfort, Kentucky (502) 597-6325 Dr. Marion Simon, State Specialist, Small Farm and Part-time Farmers E-mail address: College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm Center for the Sustainability of Farms and Families 1525 Mills Lane, Frankfort, KY Directions: From I-64 Exit 53, take US-127 south toward Lawrenceburg, at the 4th stoplight, turn left onto Mills Lane, the Kentucky State University Research Farm is 1 ½ miles on the right. PLEASE NOTE: The next Third Thursday Thing Program will be April 19, 2018 and will be hosted by NRCS

Editor: WCSHC Team Leader Frank Taylor | Email: | Phone: 601-291-2704 Layout and Design: Marqueus Draper

WCSHC March 2018 News Blast 1st Edition  
WCSHC March 2018 News Blast 1st Edition