In 1969, Fannie Lou Hamer bought 40 acres of land to use as a cooperative “Freedom Farm.” The co-op allowed area families to receive vegetables from the farm for a modest one-dollar membership fee. The co-op ultimately went bankrupt, possibly because Mrs. Hamer–always compassionate to the poor surrounding her–allowed hundreds of families who could not afford the membership fee to share in the farm’s prooduce.
Suffering from breast cancer, diabetes, heart problems, and the physical disabilities that resulted from the brutal beating she received in jail in 1963, Mrs. Hamer passed away on March 14, 1977 at the age of 59. Her grave site (and that of her husband Perry “Pap” Hamer) is located on a portion of the Freedom Farm land. The city of Ruleville began construction on the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in 2005 to honor the Civil Rights warrior known by many as “the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.”