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
Hopi farmers must be doing something right: they have survived and grown their own food for hundreds of generations. We talk to Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson about their regenerative farming and cultural practices––and the challenges to maintaining them.
Betsy Gaines Quammen has been researching the history of Mormonism and its relationship to Western landscapes for years. We talk about her new book, American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West.
Water expert Brian Richter walks us through the history of these great man-made lakes, and how we can ensure that they will continue to provide water through man-made crises like climate change.
There’s plenty of food, but with Covid-19 it’s not getting where it needs to go, and everyone–especially farmers–is paying the price. Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons walks us through the problems–and some solutions–to the many dilemmas facing the food system.
Grazing on public lands is controversial–for good reason. But when it’s done right, adaptive grazing can greatly improve land health–from overgrazed land, to former oil fields, to bombing ranges. Gregory Horner tells the stories.
Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz didn’t know they were cultivating soil health when they started doing Holistic Management of their livestock. But as they learned to work with nature rather than fighting it their soil–and their farm–began to thrive in ways they’d never dreamed of.
Farmer and writer Stanley Crawford got involved in a legal action that challenged a huge firm that wasn’t paying duties, and was “dumping” garlic onto the US market. What was supposed to take one year turned into a multi-year drama that is still ongoing.
Ronnie Cummins analyzes what’s not working about our food system and lays out a blueprint for change — while reminding us that regenerative agriculture is ultimately a necessity.
Kelsey Ducheneaux is a fourth generation regenerative beef cattle rancher, and she works with the Intertribal Agriculture Council helping producers to work within the current system–and reinvigorate native foods and practices.
Brennan Washington is an agriculture Renaissance man. He farms, promotes farmers markets, provides resources to limited-resource producers, and produces the Sustainable Ag Rider podcast.
Farmers in Australia work as fire fighters–but they don’t always do effective fire prevention. We talk to farm planner Darren Doherty talks about the devastation, causes, and opportunities arising from the bush fires.
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.