Follow Leah Penniman/ Soul Fire Farm
Farming While Black
Leah Penniman fell in love with farming when she was a teenager, became a farmer and food justice advocate, and with her husband founded Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. The farm provides food in for those with limited access to fresh produce, and it’s a center for teaching and learning about farming and African/indigenous heritage for people of color. Leah’s new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, is a profound and wide-ranging exploration of everything from the practical details of how to start a farm to the rich history of African-heritage farming and healing traditions.
If you would like to buy the book, Chelsea Green is offering a discount code DTE30 at the online checkout.
2’22 how Leah discovered the positive side of Black history in agriculture
4’27 slavery, emancipation, land ownership, and institutional oppression of black farmers
6’16 participation in civil rights led to denial of benefits and services
7’26. research leading to this book–indigenous wisdom from the Caribbean to Africa
8’49 how Soul Fire Farm began
8’59 food apartheid in south Albany
10’40 how they improved the soil on the new farm
11’37 they grow over 100 different foods, including those with cultural significance
12’45 how the farm is a response to food deserts/food apartheid
14’14. does this work economically
15’44 farm work as skill-building, inspiration, and healing for urban youth
18’06 the positive effects of working outdoors for African heritage people
19’40 what happens to alumni of Soul Fire programs
21’11 changes in the people eating healthy food
22’35 passing land from older to younger farmers
24’25 urban farming for health and community
25’52 restoration of organic matter to the soil as part of healing from colonialism
26’24 indigenous history of corn/maize and what it’s become as a monocrop
28’44 the sense of joy permeating the book
29’49 leadership of black people throughout the history of farming
30’51 how the book has been received so far
31’35 do you still have time to farm?
32’30 the question of who grows our food, not just how it’s grown
We talk to Kevin Watt from TomKat Ranch about the practice and benefits of regenerative agriculture, how to incentivize it, and the dire long-term consequences of the degenerative practices of industrial agriculture.
Kate Zeigler is a geologist who works with farmers and ranchers in the arid Southwest to monitor their wells and the water table that keeps them flowing–and helps them to come up with water conservation strategies.
Jillian Hishaw works with farmers to protect themselves, their families, and their land–legally and financially. Attorney and food systems strategist, she provides free or low-cost services, particularly to African American farmers.
The hemp plant is amazingly versatile and resilient, and it can be used to produce innumerable healthy products and services. So why was it made illegal, and what does the future hold? We talk to hemp farmers Ed Berg and Scott Perez.
What does it take to be an apprentice on a farm or ranch? What does it take to mentor the apprentices? Paul Neubauer knows both sides, and talks about learning–and teaching–both practical and personal skills on the land.
Diana Rodgers is the author of several books and is working on a new book and documentary film project, Sacred Cow. She hosts the Sustainable Dish podcast, and she lives and works on an organic farm in Massachusetts.
Dr. Robert Fetsch has for decades been helping farmers and ranchers deal with disabilities — from injuries brought on by hard work, to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and anger.
Nicole Masters is an agro-ecologist and educator in regenerative agriculture. She’s founder of Integrity Soils, and author of the new book, For the Love of Soil.
The food business is beginning to realize that they’re unsustainable — but don’t really know how to transition. Bio-Logical Capital provides demonstrations and research that point to possible paths forward.
Graeme Hand teaches Holistic Management, and how to restore grasslands with cattle–and his techniques might surprise you!
Joel Benson applied his training in holistic management to his business, and then to the government of his small town where he was mayor for eight years. The results are inspiring — and remind us of the power of systems thinking.
While cows can be destructive, they can also be effective management tools for improving land health. We talk to Rodrigo Sierra Corona about his work to improve grasslands and preserve species at the Santa Lucia Conservancy.
A long-time Quivira Coalition leader and proponent of regenerative agriculture, Kate Greenberg is now the Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Colorado. We talk about what it means to take a regenerative and “Radical Center” approach from her position in government.
Richard Teague is Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. He shares with us his deep understanding of the science of holistic management, soil science, and the psychology of changing over to new practices and paradigms.
Ed Roberson is conservation director at the Palmer Land Trust, and he’s host of the Mountain and Prairie podcast. We talk about some of the problems surrounding water in the West–and some new approaches to balancing urban and agricultural water needs.
Emmanuel Karisa Baya was an orphan in rural Kenya by the time he was nine years old. His mother had taught him to farm, and after going into another profession, he was called to return to the land.