Freeing American Lives From Recidivism, Vagrancy, & Food Deserts

Founded by Maria Baranova in 2020
Farm 4 Freedom aims to give released inmates and the destitute a fresh start at life by introducing them to agriculture. They will be trained in the skills required to sow and harvest their own land, which will then be accessible to the people in local food deserts at a fair market price.

About Us

An organization that is changing lives in multiple ways. Find out how you can help today!

Currently we are seeking volunteers with agriculture, social work experience. Contact us to learn more and to help us change lives.

  • Agriculture Experts
  • Farmers
  • Social Workers
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What are Food Deserts?

An urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.
Based on the article published by Twanda D. Wadlington, East Tennessee State University, 18% of the 1,497 Tennessee census tracts were considered "food deserts."

What is Recidivism?

* The tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.
* COVID has not effected release dates in Knoxville based on the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC)
* According to the Article posted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics: "Overall, 67.8% of the 404,638 state prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states were arrested within 3 years of release, and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years of release."

This displays a sad truth: freedom for ex-offenders is short lived a majority of the time. Farm 4 Freedom is here to help those burdened by this toxic cycle by giving them independence, confidence, community and opportunity for growth!

What is Vagrancy?

* The state of living as a vagrant; homelessness
* Based on the report by KnoxHMIS, there were 9,183 persons reporting to be homeless in 2019. This is a 3% increase from 2018. Among the top 5 reasons? Affordable housing, Eviction, and loss of jobs.
* The COVID Pandemic will only increase homelessness in Knoxville and around the Globe. We need to figure out a way to combat the compounding effects of this unprecedented pandemic and we need to do it sooner rather than later.

This brings up an extraordinary problem: How are we going to tend to the growing need of our homeless and what options are with giving them?

Changing lives through Agriculture

Providing organic food to local food deserts via Produce Trucks and Farmers Markets!

Everyone should have access to fresh produce so we are here to help make it affordable and easily accessible by partnering with SNAP and bring the food to your area!
* Partnership with SNAP will begin in the spring of 2021!

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Cultivating healthy food for those who need it, and healthy lives for those that deserve a second chance

Meet Justin

Justin, 36
Although bad life choices led him to prison and then to the streets, he has always hoped to be an agricultural engineer. He spoke with such passion and excitement about the opportunity to advance his life through Farm 4 Freedom.
He has so much potential, yet his circumstances limit him in life.
I see a potential leader in him but his eyes fell as I praised him for it; he does not see it in himself yet. This man is wounded but not broken. He is alive and willing to change.

He wants our community to know that "It's really hard to start with nothing," so if anyone in the community wants to give Justin agricultural work as Farm 4 Freedom gains momentum please contact us.
Farm 4 Freedom wants nothing more that to see Justin find his his way off the streets.

Words from others in need

Teresa, 49
Teresa is an immigrant from Africa who soon found herself living on the streets. She was a kind and quiet woman with a contagious smile. She did not see herself as a farmer but was quite fond of cooking her traditional African dishes. She tossed her head back with some laughter and a smile as she thought of the idea of cooking her fresh dishes for the community. She wanted the community to know that she doesn't want much, just a roof over her head.

Billy, 52
Billy was a gentle and kind man that waited for an opportunity to get a plate of cobbler. He was quiet but listened well to the words I spoke. He appreciated the idea of the project but had little hope in seeing that sort of opportunity given to him. He wanted people to know "I just want to help people." He saw this as an opportunity to do that.

Melissa, 57
A kind woman with breath-taking blue eyes that simply lit up the room. She thought fondly of her childhood on the farm; working beside her grandparents yet she did not seek to farm at this age. She joyfully said that this would definitely help her community., but admits that farming is not ideal for her at this time. Although I didn't hear her story, I could tell she had passion and fire inside her. She had plenty of life and willing to work. She has grown accustomed to her community and feels comfortable with the people around her so she is content with this life for the meanwhile, but admits that there are many around her that need this opportunity to get off the streets.

Craig Waley, 46
Craig was the first person to welcome us as we arrived to our location. He was a kind and gracious man and appreciated the idea of being able to use his trade with Farm 4 Freedom. He wanted the community to know that "none of us were born like this, we were born to families: I used to be somebody. When you end up on the streets, people will feed you, clothe you, bathe you, and even give you shelter, but no one offers a way out." He said that "we will stay where we are if no one gives us a chance."

Craig had a great point, there was no middle ground for those who come from the streets. You can offer someone a job but they will fail if they do not assimilate properly. You can give them daily essentials to live but they aren't really living.
Farm 4 Freedom is that middle ground between the streets and assimilation.
Tre, 33
Is a fun charismatic and outgoing young man that sees more for himself than the streets. He is not only coping with the loss of his home but also his brother. He has innovative ideas about farming and looks forward to leading the charge once Farm 4 Freedom launches in the spring of 2021!

Charles, 57

Charles is disabled but has an entrepreneur spirit! He wanted his family to know he is okay and doing well. In the short time we got to talk to Charles, he encouraged 10+ people to come see us and displayed a humbled work ethic. He built a community here in Knoxville and helps as much as he can with his limited resources. He is a clear leader and a gem in the rough.

Homeless Woman Staying Positive

The Story Behind Farm 4 Freedom

After COVID19 hit Tennessee it was evident that the homeless population was going to spike. It was also clear that many ex-offenders had no growth opportunity at this time. After talking to one of my old friends about the poverty cycle and issues surrounding it, I came up with the idea of hiring these communities to solve the food desert situation in Knoxville, TN.
Knoxville takes good care of their homeless but unfortunately, there are limited opportunities to advance further through any of these programs. Even when employment opportunities are presented, its not as easy as just showing up to work. It is difficult to maintain employment when you have no home, when you have no resources, when the culture around you has little sense of time other than the bus route, and when drugs make it easier to cope with your current reality.
There must be a middle ground for these homeless and ex-offenders that gives them a flexible schedule, a productive community, and stability to improve. We must give these communities stability in order for them to grow: This is where Farm 4 Freedom comes in.
This is the middle ground. The workers get picked up via carpool, paid minimum wage for training (which is at their own pace), this program is completely optional and should be used as a resource, not forced on each individual. Once the training has been completed, the farmer has the option to get a designated plot of land to grow the crops of the season. The crops produced will be sold to local food deserts for profit or taken home for their family. This is an option available to all our trained or -also known as-"Lead" Farmers.
The farmers markets will serve two purposes for our farmers:
1) Sell their crops to communities
2) Prepare resumes and personal statements for local businesses to pick up so that our farmers have growth opportunity in their preferred field.