414: Leah Penniman on Liberating the Land.

Challenging the mono-CULTURE of farming

Leah is a Black Creole farmer who has been tending the soil for twenty years and organizing for an anti-racist food system for fifteen years. She currently serves as founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York—a people-of-color led project that works to dismantle racism in the food system.

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Through Soul Fire Farm’s innovative programs such as the Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion; a sliding-scale Farm Share CSA; and Youth Food Justice leadership trainings – she is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and promote equity in food access.   Leah has been recognized by – the Soros Equality Fellowship; NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards; and Fulbright Distinguished. IF that was not enough, she is the author of Farming While Black published by our friends at Chelsea Green Publishing.  

In This Podcast:

A passion for the soil, the earth and her community started when Leah Penniman began farming at the age of 16. Through the years she has continued to work towards ending a racism and injustice in our food system, and also on land reparations for people of color. She and her family have built Soul Fire Farm where they raise culturally important food, delivering it to people in need. They give tours and help train future activists.  Leah channeled her passion into writing a book, Farming While Black. 

Listen in and learn about:

“I am a person who is passionately in love with the soil, with the earth and with our human community and I found that out when I first started farming at age 16 at the Food Project.”   
  • The African traditions rooted in farming 
  • All the important things happening at Soul Fire Farm 
  • What is grown ad who benefits from the food grown on Soul Fire Farm 
  • How Leah is working on land reparations 
“We think of ourselves as more as the mycelium in the forest that connect the trees and share nutrients and resources and help other trees grow.” 

As well as: 

  • Her failure – We saved enough to buy land for our farm but didn’t think about how much everything else would cost so we had to dig the foundation ourselves. We had just about finished and then realized that we had to re-dig the foundation to work with the solar cells. 
  • Her success – Our children have learned so much growing up on this farm. 
  • Her drive – The moments when I see this hard work matters 
  • Her advice – There are so many right answers. Find the intersection of what the world needs and what makes you come alive. 

Books written by Leah: 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land 

Leah’s Book recommendations: 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Susan Wall Kimmerer 

How to reach Leah: 

Website: soulfirefarm.org 

Facebook: @soulfirefarm 

Twitter: @soulfirefarm  

Email:  soulfirefarm.org/contact us   


Note: You can also find these books mentioned above at one of our favorite local independent bookstores and have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a small business.

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