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Black homesteaders in southern Arizona look to the land for ancestral connection, independence

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 12:42pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 8:15am

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Sherman and Sha Lester Deeply Rooted Ranch & Homestead
Adiba Nelson
Sherman and Sha Lester on their farm, Deeply Rooted Ranch & Homestead, near Picture Rocks, Arizona.

Tucson writer Adiba Nelson is always looking for stories. So when she saw two different Instagram accounts devoted to documenting the lives and work of Black farmers and ranchers in southern Arizona, she knew she was onto something.

And for her, it was personal. Having grown up in New York City, Nelson has recently been feeling a pull back to the land, much like the Black farmers she profiled.

Her article, “Our Roots Are in the Roots” appeared this fall in BorderLore, a monthly online journal based at the University of Arizona that documents folklife in the borderlands region.

The Show spoke with her to learn about the farming lifestyle and her connection to it.

Stewart family ranch Douglas Arizona
Ivan McClellan
Rachael and James “Stew” Stewart with their children on their ranch in Douglas, Arizona.

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