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
With the best of intentions and technological innovation, we have broken the world’s water cycle. Now, says water expert Sandra Postel, we need to work with nature in order to restore it—if we want to survive, thrive, and, well, eat.
Dr. Emeran Mayer connects the human and soil microbiomes—both stretched to their limits and beyond by today’s diet, lifestyle, and industrial practices. And he tells us how we can eat and grow food in a way that heals the body, the economy, and the planet.
Reese Baker has a vision for greening urban landscapes—and he wants to make Santa Fe an example of how to do it, by catching rainwater from roofs, streets, and parking lots, and channeling it into gardens, trees, and soil.
Orchardist Gordon Tooley knows apple trees–and has been cultivating rare and heirloom varieties for three decades. But for him it’s as much about the landscape and lifestyle as about the product. We talk about living slowly, observing closely, and promoting healthy land, water, wildlife, and human communities.
New England is lush and green—and all kinds of creatures want to eat a farmer’s crops. Apple grower and cider maker Steve Wood talks about Integrated Pest Management and its challenges.
Seaweed has always been used for food, fertilizer, and medicine. But now, off the coast of Maine, over-harvesting threatens rockweed and the many species that depend on it.
Jesse Smith‘s work aims for the opposite of planned obsolescence—the goals at Jalama Canyon Ranch are resilience and perennial productivity, through restoration of ecosystems and a truly regenerative vision of agriculture.
Getting certified for grassfed meat can be challenging–but the American Grassfed Association supports producers in regenerative practices that are good for the earth, the farmer, and the eater.
Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer and vegetarian when she married a rancher—so she has a unique and broad-based perspective on agriculture. We discuss the new edition of her book, Defending Beef: The Ecological and Nutritional Case for Meat.
Native Americans used fire and other methods to cultivate food on the prairie. In the 20th century it was plowed under for endless rows of monocrops. Omar de Kok-Mercado is part of a team that is working to make prairie land ecologically–and economically–sustainable.
Beth Robinette grew up on a ranch but didn’t expect to stay there. But then she got so interested in food system and regenerative practices that now she’s ranching, developing new business models, and teaching the ropes to the next generation of ranchers.
Lucille Contreras calls buffalo her relatives. She’s a Lipan Apache and founder of the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project, which brings together food, culture, and language around this animal to reestablish its homeland.
Kristina Long is a ship captain and an artisanal kelp farmer in British Columbia. We talk about kelp ecosystems, food, and keeping sustainable practices in a growing market.
Mark Nelson and Starrlight Augustine talk about the lessons learned from the ambitious experiment of 30 years ago, in which eight people lived in a sealed space and grew all their own food–recycling water, air, and waste.
Rachael and James Stewart saw a lack of Black and Brown farmers and ranchers–and an opportunity to serve communities with unusual meat products. So they sold a classic car and started a ranch.
Author of fourteen books on food and pioneer in vegetarian cooking, she talks about her new memoir, An Onion in my Pocket, and her adventures during fifty years as a chef.