Samantha “Foxx” Winship seems to have found her calling on the farm.
Owner and operator of Mother’s Finest Family Urban Farms in Winston-Salem, Winship had a sense for agriculture instilled at an early age. Born in New York but with family roots in Wayne County, Winship spent her early years on her great-uncle’s farm, watching her older brother and cousins pick tobacco over the summer and enjoying the fresh-picked food her grandmother cooked. While those memories were precious, Winship said she didn’t intend to make agriculture a part of her life as an adult.
That changed after she moved back to North Carolina.
“I ended up going to a class at the cooperative extension, an urban farming class they were offering. At first I was skeptical, because I was very disconnected from that life by then. It was a fast life I was living, and I was trying to slow down when I came to North Carolina, but in no way was I like ‘I’m going to be a farmer,’” Winship said. “Then I took the class, and it was just like an awakening for me. It really just shifted me back to my home and where my heart was.”
With that, Winship began working to build a place where she could share her love of the farm with her community and her family. By doing her work in an urban setting, Winship said she has been able to more directly touch the people around her, and spread knowledge to people who might otherwise pass right by a rural farm. She views her work with Mother’s Finest not only as a business, but as a way to build a knowledge base that can help uplift other people around her.
“When it comes to teaching my own kids, I realized as a parent you have to do better,” she said. “Especially with some of the health issues that are in the Black community, I look at it as I want to break some generational curses with what I’m doing. Hopefully I can teach them a better way and then they can spread that to other people.”
Mother’s Finest produces several products including skincare creams, Jamaican scotch bonnet infused honey and holistic tonics. Many of those products are made using the honey produced in Winship’s own beehives, which she cultivates while also teaching beekeeping.
Beekeeping has been a labor of love for Winship, after she began working on beehives with her youngest son Kingston. Seeing how he took to the work hammered home the importance of representation for young black children looking for role models in largely white industries like farming.
“I felt like I had to step up and show even young ladies that beekeeping was something they could do. I never saw a black beekeeper growing up, so I wanted to change the course of how things were set out,” she said. “We started going around to schools and summer programs, bringing our bees, and it kind of started to change the game. Especially when they would see my youngest son, he was maybe five and he knew what he was talking about. It made them start to think ‘I want to be a beekeeper now.’”
Farming in the American south is a historically white, male and rural industry. Winship is a Black woman running an urban farming operation, and her identity plays a major role in how she views her own work.
“It’s a huge part of what I’m doing. I refer to myself as a farm-her,” she said with a laugh. “It is a whitewashed thing when it comes to farming in North Carolina, but just the other day I saw that there’s a school in Charlotte that wrote up something in their curriculum about me, which was jaw-dropping. Black kids don’t really get to see the kind of stuff that I’m doing very often. It’s important, and they’re some big shoes to fill, but we don’t really see this. I didn’t see it growing up either really.”
Breaking down that racial and gender barrier has become something of a personal mission for Winship, which ties into her desire to reach out and educate children who might not have ever known about the opportunities agriculture provides. It’s all in the service of creating a fundamentally better world, she said.
“This is going to be a part of history, and I can already see that future writing itself out. It’s become almost like my duty, because I want a better future,” she said. “I’m willing to give what I’ve worked for in the hopes that future generations will take that and do so much more with it. I believe in the future that much.”
To learn more about Mother’s Finest, visit https://www.mothersfinesturbanfarms.com/.