Reec Swiney - BlackYard Chickenz

One of the most important parts of sustaining a business is knowing when and how to grow and where you’re trying to build generational wealth, understanding the evolution of your business is paramount. 

 Two years ago, when I first spoke to Reec Swiney, the founder of BlackYard Chickenz, he was living in a modest Atlanta suburb with a standard-sized backyard learning how to raise chickens. At the time, he had 12 chickens and at least 4 of them were babies. Now, BlackYard Chickenz sits on two and a half acres of land and is home to more than 56 animals, some of which are rescues. 

NewsOne recently had another opportunity to sit down with the Black entrepreneur to pick his brain on the values of homesteading and the significance of land ownership in creating sustainable generational wealth.

BlackYard Chickenz - mindset-of-an-entrepreneur-black-people-homesteading-generational-wealth

Source: BlackYard Chickenz

When it comes to wealth, Black people are at the bottom of the totem and it has been that way since the inception of this country.

According to Pew, only 45% of Black households were in either the middle or upper wealth tiers in 2021, the lowest share among the groups examined. The majority of Black households (55%) were in the lower wealth tier in 2021 – that is, they had less than $41,700 in wealth.

But, Reec and BlackYard Chickenz aren’t worried about statistics, only the family, his family, and his plan to pass down generational wealth to his girls. 

During the interview, Reec highlighted the economic impact and positive influence his homestead has had on his community. He also discussed the importance of diversifying income streams created by the homestead and discussed how he addresses challenges through trial and error and is never hesitant to seek advice from experienced individuals

Managing financial challenges and making sacrifices to sustain a homestead is not easy, but BlackYard Chickenz seems to have found a formula.

Check out the interview below.

Reec Swiney - BlackYard Chickenz

Source: BlackYard Chickenz

Bilal Morris: When we first started you just had a chicken coup. Talk about what it took to evolve from chicken coup to full homestead.

Reec Swiney: I started with two chickens. When you came for the first time a few years ago we had about 12 chickens.  Now we have over 56 animals. I like getting my hands dirty, so I’m starting to grow potatoes right now. I just wanted to try something easy. I never really grew anything. So the journey kind of started with just liking what I was doing with the chickens. It was something new, it was fresh, and I was able to get my friends to do other things, trading. Somebody started growing peppers, then my neighbor, started growing tomatoes. So I was trading eggs with them and eggs with somebody else, and I could see how It could really help shape a community, at least a close-knit group of people. So once that started going, of course, you get the bug for other things, I was like, you know, I wonder what it would be like if I had some ducks. So I get ducks. I didn’t know anything about them, so I had a lot of learning and just figuring it out and seeing that they have eggs, and I had no idea that duck eggs were just as nutritious. Actually, a little more nutritious than chicken eggs, and they’re bigger. So, like, one duck egg is like an egg and a half chicken egg, and it’s been a secret that baker’s been using duck eggs for years.

Reec Swiney - BlackYard Chickenz -mindset-of-an-entrepreneur-black-people-homesteading-generational-wealth

BM: How many animals do you have on the farm?

RS: We got a couple of pot belly pig rescues, a couple of ponies, got four goats and three of them are rescues. We got six rabbits and more to come because they’ve been in there doing what rabbits do. I’m gonna say around thirty chickens, nine ducks, and a guinea fowl. Of course, I still have my dogs and a cat in the house. I also have a few fish and I’m trying to get them to procreate so I can throw them in with the ducks and let them chase the fish.

BM: So you got a whole damn farm over there huh?

RS: Whole situation. 

BM: How has homesteading contributed to your understanding and general wealth within the Black community?

RS: It’s given me a different perspective on what can be passed down. By definition, I think generational wealth is funds or assets that can be passed from one generation down to the next. But it doesn’t stop at that.  It keeps appreciating in value, so then that generation can grow it and pass it on to the next generation. Black people, for the most part, I would say, in general, don’t have that luxury. My parents, parents, my grandparents on my mom’s side were the first people to own their own stuff, you know, own their own property. So they were able to pass that on to my mom and them. It’s eight of them. So they were able to be the first generation to go to college, to get a higher level of education and then take that to the next level.  We are still not at a point where we’re able to make mistakes. Some families can make mistakes in a generation, like, they have so much wealth accrued that that generation can go out, start a business, fail, and still have something to fall back on. They can buy a house and say, hey, Mom or Dad, I need a loan for my down payment.

We don’t have that.  I think the farm gives me a perspective of what I can pass down. At least I can show them, a way that they can generate their own food.

BM: Talk about some unique challenges Black Farmers face today and how you try to overcome them.

RS: Trial and error, that’s the main thing. Every day on the farm there is something to do. I might walk outside and everything looks perfect and then I get a chicken throwing up. Or I’m trying to learn how to catch a pig. It sounds easy, but it’s not. They’re strong and fast and you’d never know unless you had to do it before. One of the things I really had to get over was not being embarrassed to ask questions about what I didn’t know. Google can tell me the textbook way to do it, but somebody else might be like, nah, bro, try this way and see what happens.

BM: Hands-on experience.

RS: Exactly.

BM: What advice would you give young Black entrepreneurs interested in homesteading and building a farm?

RE: You need to understand that anything you buy in agriculture is a living thing, so it’s going to die. With that being said, there is also a chance you can kill it. You have to understand in the beginning that you are responsible for living things. That should then give you the wherewithal to do your research. Being open-minded is probably the best advice I could give someone. Being open-minded will give you the ability to ask the right people the right questions.

BM: The beautiful thing about this is you’re such a good soul and when you get into these communities, you’re just a great representation for us. It also shows you that there are just these misconceptions that people have about certain people. But then when you involve yourself in that person’s life, you know how they feed their family, right? And then it’s like oh, man, he feeds his family just like I feed my family. Then the bond Is more so about the things that you have in common than the things you have that are not in common.

RS: That was very well, very well put, bro. That’s exactly what it is.

BM: How has this experience been with your daughters? Talk about what this has meant to you as a father to have your children involved in building a legacy.

RS: I don’t know why my forties made me so sentimental LOL. Sunday, we had a farmers market I was invited to, right? So I have four daughters, one’s in Alabama going to school doing her thing. My other daughter’s home from the summer, from Hampton. She’s at the house. My other daughter’s a junior high school, and I got my seven-year-old. And my stepson wants to be a veterinarian, So, he’s really excited about the animals and stuff. My daughters, bro, when I tell you, like, they surprised me. My two oldest are teenagers, and they want to get out and do their own thing. I ain’t mad. I don’t force them to do any of this stuff.

Saturday, I’m like, hey, I got a farmers market Sunday. I got up the next morning at like 730 to get everything ready to go. But I came downstairs, they were already packed up. They already got their shirts on. They like, Dad, we rolling, bro. I almost cried right there. Ain’t gonna lie. Having them just get excited about little stuff. Like, they cleaned all the eggs. It just makes me like, damn, this is neat. Like, to be able to hang out and do this.  And I know that’s not what any kid wants to do at 7:30 Sunday morning, but we just hanging out. It was amazing. What we’re doing and what I’m talking about is trickling down, you know what I’m saying? And they listen and hear it, they are their own people, but they kind of enjoy rocking with pop sometimes, you know?

Reec Swiney - BlackYard Chickenz

Source: BlackYard Chickenz


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