[W]hen the couple moved to McCool in January 2017 and looked out over the abandoned farm, they had no idea where to start. So, they looked to history, back to a time when this land was tended well.
The farm was once one of the central Mississippi farms that were stewarded jointly by Black families, formed out of necessity to share resources and know-how in the first half of the 20th century. Cooperatives have a long history for Black farmers in Mississippi of helping Black sharecroppers evolve into owning land and farms. In spite of systemic barriers, Black co-ops began to prosper and proliferate along the Mississippi Delta. Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Farm Cooperative spearheaded them into the mainstream civil rights movement.
"Each family owned hundreds of acres, there was really no need to go outside of the community, maybe only a couple times a year to get anything because the whole community supported each other," Teresa said. Some families raised cows and hogs, others grew produce; a few craftsmen like farriers made the rounds; and the whole community thrived together. From stories and photos passed down, Teresa said, "It was majestic."