Department or Program

Environmental Studies


White people own 99% of all farmland in Maine. While white farmland owners are aging out of farming, which puts this land at risk of development, a new generation of farmers of color is currently seeking farmland. However, institutional racism poses significant barriers to entrant farmers. Additionally, research suggests that farmland succession also relies on informal social networks that actively exclude people of color, although little scholarship has focused exclusively on this topic. In this thesis, I conduct a case study with farmland owners and service providers to better understand how the social networks of farmland owners impact the ability of farmers of color to access farmland in Auburn, Maine. I find that farmland owners and their neighbors create significant barriers to farmland access for farmers of color. Farmland owners interact with the racist distribution of farmland by hesitating or refusing to sell to farmers of color, selling to the highest bidder in a racist economic structure, willing farmland to white family members, and opposing reparations. I also study the rhetoric of farming owners, finding that participants employ rhetorical tropes that disguise racism, blame racism on people of color, and attempt to define racism in nonracial terms. I also find several examples of farmland owners practicing antiracism. I suggest that future antiracist work to address racism within farmland owner social networks should focus on implementing antiracist national farming policy, educating landowners, creating a Farmer of Color Farmland Succession Program, and exploring models of land access beyond capitalist structures of ownership.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Eanes, Francis

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Community Engagement


Open Access

Available to all.