Level The Planting Field

Clarenda “Cee” Stanley aka Farmer Cee

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
That question really should incite some reflection and introspection. Even for those who are firm in their definition of self. It is good to do a little self-check. So who am I?  Let’s see. I am a black woman with a fire to create change in this world. I am someone who has lost to win and who has hurt to love. I am a farmer. I am an environmentalist. I am a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, aunt, sister, friend. A philanthropist. A divine representation of God’s imagination.

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
Hell no. I had professional ADHD for several years. I just jumped from job to job, constantly bored. But the crazy thing is that they all made sense once I got into nonprofit fundraising. I really wish more people knew the scope of philanthropy professions – there would be more people in the field. And I never saw the whole farming thing coming.I didn’t set out to help ‘level the planting field’. But after about the tenth time tripping up on inequity potholes, I had no choice. This system definitely wasn’t designed with me in mind.

Were you scared to start the process?
I wasn’t scared, per say. Being a black woman in America, there are too many other areas for me to expend my fear. So no, I wasn’t scared. However, I was distrustful. I still am for the most part – the hemp world isn’t all rainbows and glitter. Folks in this cannot actually take CBD because there are far too many assholes.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
Well dang, I am not going to disclose it now to a bunch of folks I don’t know. Something that most people reading this won’t know is that I am what you call an ambivert.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Leave.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
16 year old me was the scared mother of a one year old. I would tell her to that she had everything she needed to get where she needed to me. To just stay the course. 

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
I think that is something most of us experience but honestly, I have always been fairly resilient to doubt. Once I make my mind about something, I do not rely on external validation. I am stubborn that way. More so than someone else doubting me, what always hurt me was when I doubted myself.

Have you always had confidence in yourself?
No. I am human. I deal with days that I am not feeling on my A-game. Maybe I don’t like how I look that day or I forgot to do my eyebrows or am just having a hard time silencing my internal haters. That is okay. We shouldn’t put the pressure on ourselves to always be anything other than present.

What do you love most about yourself?
I think I have a wicked sense of humor. And my little teeth with a center gap – gives my smile character in a world where everybody is starting to look alike.

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Shit, that would require me to write a tome. When my parents divorced and I didn’t see my dad for years at a time. When I was abused. When I had to go live with my grandparents in the poorest county in Alabama. When I became a mom at 15. When I became a mom again at 19. When I dropped out of college for the first time. And then the second time. When I was married. When I was divorced, now single mother of three. When I moved to a state where I knew no one. When I was married again. When I knew I would be divorced again. When I apply for a job. When I apply for a loan. Adversity is built into the systems. I overcome it daily.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
That your mindset can create magic.

What motivates you most?
Waking up.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
I don’t try to attain balance. I focus more on harmony. And instead of work-life, I focus on me-life-purpose. Some days, certain aspects require more. I have learned to go with the flow.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I forgive myself. I give myself grace.

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
I have several and they teach me various things. One teaches me how to grow hemp, another teaches me empathy, another teaches me discipline. And they change over time because my needs evolve, I evolve.

Who is your biggest role model? Why?
My maternal grandmother Charity. Because she was everything. And I always had a home with her. She was home.

Where do you find inspiration?
In my grandchildren’s laughter. Sounds corny but it so true.

What are your biggest passions?
Helping black people and others who are overdue for a collective come-up, the color purple, thrifting, saving the planet, growing -both plants and as a human.

clarenda stanley

Clarenda Stanley aka Farmer Cee is a seasoned marketing and nonprofit fundraising professional who has raised more than $72M for worthy causes such as education and children’s mental health. In 2018, she unexpectedly found herself as a hemp farmer and a voice for racial equity in agriculture and the hemp industry.

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