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Soul Fire Farm

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Official Website

(article on co-founder Leah Penniman)




(from the website)


Strategic Goals

UPROOT RACISM IN THE FOOD SYSTEM (why we do it)

End inequity in access to land, sustenance, and power in the food system. The food system is built upon land theft and genocide of indigenous people and the exploitation of Black and Brown labor. Black farmers currently operate less than 1% of the nation’s farms, having lost over 12 million acres to USDA discrimination, racist violence, and legal trickery. 85% of the people working the land in the US are Latinx migrant workers, yet only 2.5% of farms are owned and operated by Latinxs. People of color are disproportionately likely to live under food apartheid and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other diet related illness. Labor laws continue to permit the exploitation of farm and food workers.
Reverse industrial agriculture’s damage to the planet and harm to vulnerable communities. Industrial agriculture is responsible for 24% of climate change, 70% of water use, and 37% of land use. Environmental impacts of climate change, pesticide exposure, et. al. harm communities of color disproportionately. Sustainable farming practices rooted in African-Indigenous wisdom are part of the solution to feeding the world without undermining its ecology.
Heal from a history of oppression that has disconnected our communities from land. A history of land-based oppression and forced migration have resulted in a concentration of people of color in urban environments, often devoid of the psycho-spiritual and somatic benefits of connection to the earth. “Nature deficit disorder” can lead to ADHD, anxiety, depression, poor eyesight, and lower achievement in school. Childhood obesity – linked to lack of access to quality food and outdoor play – has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, putting youth at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, psychological problems, and later in life, stroke and cancer. 


SEED COMMUNITY FOOD SOVEREIGNTY (what we do)

Feed people and soil – survival programs. We provide weekly doorstep deliveries of in-season, farm fresh, certified naturally-grown vegetables, herbs, eggs, and poultry to hundreds of individuals living under food apartheid and targeted by state violence. We provide this produce at subsidized rates and accept SNAP so that no one is denied access to life-giving food due to their economic status. This food is intensively cultivated on 5 acres using exclusively organic and ancestral practices that increase topsoil depth, sequester carbon, and increase soil biodiversity. The buildings on the farm are hand-constructed, using local wood, adobe, straw bales, solar heat, and reclaimed materials.
Train Farmer-Activists – “skill up” programs. Through our BIPOC FIRE (Black-Indigenous-People of Color Farming in Relationship with Earth) we annually train over 100 adults to take leadership as farmers and food justice organizers in their communities and 300+ youth to health their relationship with earth and imagine new futures. Using land as a tool to heal from racial trauma, we work to reverse the dangerously low percentage of farms being owned and operated by people of color and increase the leadership of people of color in the food justice movement. Our graduates receive ongoing mentorship to access resources, land, and training and are invited to join our speakers collective so they can amplify their voice in the food system.
Build the movement – systemic change. We collaborate with regional and national food justice networks to advance reparations, establish action platforms, and work on campaigns to shift unjust systemic practices. Each year, we inspire thousands of community members though speaking at conferences, publishing articles/book chapters, and facilitating workshops for activists to share tangible methods for dismantling racism in the food system and increasing community food sovereignty. We also host on-farm educational and community-building events for hundreds of participants and organize with our sibling farms in Haiti and Puerto Rico.
Uplift radical self-care. In line with our work to advance healing justice and liberation in the wider community, we commit to an internal team culture that uplifts compassionate communication, ample rest, distributed leadership, fair compensation, and investment in personal and professional development.


Strategic Goals for 2019




(from article on Leah Penniman)


The 72 acre farm is located in Grafton, NY. Food is intensively cultivated using exclusively organic and ancestral techniques that increase topsoil depth, sequester carbon, and increase soil biodiversity. The buildings on the farm are hand-constructed, using local wood, adobe, straw bales, solar heat, and reclaimed materials. The goals of the farm are to end racism and injustice in the food system. The team of workers and activists there also bring diverse communities together on the land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health and environmental justice through their programs.


Programs

Soul Fire Farm Share (Community Supported Agriculture) The program delivers freshly grown produce each week, to the doorsteps of over 80 farm share members in Troy and Albany New York, based on the spirit of ujaama, or cooperative economics. Payment can be made according to an income based sliding-scale, EBT payments are accepted, and no one is turned away for lack of income. This program also provides #solidarityshares, for immigrants, refugees, and those impacted by state violence. ”We are committed to working with the most marginalized issues. It's a different economic model. It's about relationships. It's not just a model of selling," says Penniman.


Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion

This program teaches novice and intermediate growers the basic skills of regenerative farming and has trained over 350 farmers since 2011. The training covers skills like planting, transplanting, harvesting, compost, pest management, processing chickens, and use of medicinal herbs. The program supplies the tools for additional comprehensive commercial farm training. Participants learn in a culturally relevant and supportive environment that helps them connect to the land and understand "trauma rooted in oppression on land.”


Uprooting Racism Immersion

This workshop provides farming and food justice leaders with theory and action. Participants examine the history of food injustice and then devise strategies to end the systemic racism in the food system.


Youth Program

The goal of this program is to reconnect youth to their innate belonging to the land and to restore each person's rightful place of empowerment in the food system. It exposes young people to harvesting, cooking and food justice knowledge through one day workshops, including inter-generational groups. From 2013-2015, the farm’s restorative justice program allowed teens to earn money to pay off court-ordered restitution and avoid incarceration. Soul Fire Farm’s youth program began in 2011.


Activist Retreats

“From prisoner justice to climate justice, our struggles for a world of dignity, empowerment, and sustainability are intertwined. Those of us on the front lines of social and environmental change understand the need to periodically step out of our everyday context to rejuvenate, strategize, and connect.” Soul Fire Farm makes their space available to activists working for social and environmental change so that they might "rejuvenate, strategize, and connect.”


Community Farm Days

Each Month, from April to October, Soul Fire Farm hosts community farm days, where volunteers and staff work the land and learn together, followed by a potluck and conversation. The farm honors the Haitian cultural practice of Konbit, cooperative work and mutual aid.


Further Materials:

Readings:


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

Sowing the Seeds of Food Justice: A Guide for Farmers Who Want to Supply Low Income Communities While Maintaining Financial Sustainability

Leah Penniman's Bibliography