This story is an update to our original story announcing the partnership between Communities Unlimited and Cargill Black Farmers Initiative

Read The Original

In 2022, Communities Unlimited (CU) received a grant from Cargill’s Black Farmer’s Initiative to purchase trailers for growers in three states to increase their farm’s capacity. WSBZ Farms in Arkansas has used that trailer to help build an ecosystem in their area that is beneficial to their farm, other small-scale growers and their community.

Cargill’s goal was to build a more equitable economy. They can accomplish this by putting producers at the center of solutions, working to increase the participation, profitability, and productivity of Black farmers, ranchers, and growers.

Healthy Foods Coordinator Brenda Williams worked with several small-scale farmers to provide them with trailers, thanks to Cargill’s Black Farmers Initiative. The trailers were purchased from Ouachita Trailer Sales, LLC. in Crossett, Arkansas. Some farmers have been farming for over ten years and do not have the necessities to do their jobs effectively. Communities Unlimited stepped in to assist with this need.

Liz-Bell Simpson
Liz Bell-Simpson, the owner/founder of WSBZ Farms used the trailer she received and has used it to benefit multiple small-scale growers in her area

Elizabeth (Liz) Bell-Simpson is one of those farmers. Liz is the owner/founder of WSBZ Farms in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is a third-generation farmer, US Air Force Veteran, retired Air Traffic Controller, master gardener, and entrepreneur. She founded WSBZ Farms in 2019 to advance farming in the area. Liz and her family have lived in the area and maintained an active farming presence for three generations. Liz’s daughter Josefina Thomas (JoJo) is the Executive Director of WSBZ Farms.

WSBZ Farms is a 70-acre 3rd generation farm with a 15-acre pollinator field, several beehives, and a 30×100-foot High Tunnel for year-round growing. The High Tunnels have allowed them to continue growing their crops throughout the harsh climates that Arkansas sometimes faces.

High Tunnels at WSBZ Farms
WSBZ Farms in Little Rock, AR uses high tunnels for year-round growing.

The Cargill Black Farmer Initiative allowed WSBZ to receive a trailer to build a more equitable economy, and that is just what Liz did. The trailer made it possible to increase revenue with the farm. WSBZ collaborated with other farmers in their area to increase the benefit of having the trailer and has recently started an outreach program to help other farmers expand their own operations. Liz worked with those farmers and ranchers who needed transportation to haul their produce to the market. Since WSBZ Farms had the capacity to wash the produce and make it ready for market they created a co-op allowing them to transport and sell the produce that other growers brought them.

Brenda Williams

"I think Liz and her family are going to do great things. Liz's initiative is a game changer."

— Brenda Williams, Healthy Foods Coordinator

The trailer allowed Liz to make things easier for her business and to help others maintain their farms. With the time she is saving from not making as many trips to the market, Liz has been able to host events, seminars, and even family reunions at the farm expanding her capacity and better utilize her property while benefitting other small-scale growers.

Since the farm produces a lot of peas, tomatoes, okra, watermelons, greens, etc., Liz sometimes has unused items. Instead of letting the produce go to waste, she has collaborated with the Central Arkansas Library System and the Arkansas Food Bank as another way of giving back.

Cargill Trailer being unloaded
Liz Bell-Simpson and her family putting their new trailer to work delivering produce.

They now have the privilege of delivering fresh produce to the older people, veterans, disabled, and low-income families within their communities. Liz’s goal is to focus on outreach and educational United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Programs available to underserved farmers, ranchers, and veterans and make a positive effort for the community and surrounding areas.

Liz is grateful for the trailer and plans to continue making the farm successful while giving back to her community.