Booker T. Whatley


Today, we’re focusing on a revolutionary name in agriculture, Booker T. Whatley. Whatley was born in 1915, and he devoted his life to the study of agriculture and how to get the community involved. He earned a BS in Agriculture from Alabama A & M University and a doctorate in Horticulture from Rutgers University. He was briefly drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War, where he ran a hydroponic farm to grow and deliver healthy foods to stationed soldiers.

While teaching as a professor of agriculture at Tuskegee University, Whatley recognized the lack of attention local farms were receiving from the community. He also saw the struggles that Black farmers faced in the South when trying to receive loans from the government to keep their land. These issues made Whatley take charge and work with Southern Black farmers to find ways to engage with the community. This led to the creation of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. By advocating for programs such as pick-your-own farms, he created a way for society to get involved with the land around them and help sustain farms throughout the area. His work continues to be used by farmers today, as he wrote a book in 1987 to guide them called “How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres.”

Whatley’s contributions to agriculture created ways to help local farmers of every race make revenue and get the community involved. He paved the way for community-based agriculture, a practice that we at CCE-Suffolk are proud to be a part of.

For information about the impact of Whatley’s work, visit

Last updated February 23, 2022