"We use Afro-indigenous agroforestry, silvopasture, wildcrafting, polyculture, and spiritual farming practices to regenerate 80 acres of mountainside land, producing fruits, plant medicine, pasture-raised livestock, honey, mushrooms, vegetables, and preserves for community provisioning, with the majority of the harvest provided to people living under food apartheid and targeted by state violence. Our ancestral farming practices build topsoil, sequester soil carbon, and increase biodiversity. The buildings on the farm are hand-constructed, using local wood, adobe, straw bales, solar heat, and reclaimed materials."
- from the Farming While Black website
The Mission of Soul Fire Farm
food sovereignty, racial equity, home gardening, sustainability, spiritual nourishment, community self-determination, and joy.
"Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.
Our food sovereignty programs reach over 160,000 people each year, including farmer training for Black and Brown growers, reparations and land return initiatives for northeast farmers, food justice workshops for urban youth, home gardens for city-dwellers living under food apartheid, doorstep harvest delivery for food insecure households, and systems and policy education for public decision-makers."
In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people―a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of "African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described―from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land. Woven throughout the book is the story of Soul Fire Farm, a national leader in the food justice movement.
The technical information is designed for farmers and gardeners with beginning to intermediate experience. For those with more experience, the book provides a fresh lens on practices that may have been taken for granted as ahistorical or strictly European. Black ancestors and contemporaries have always been leaders―and continue to lead―in the sustainable agriculture and food justice movements. It is time for all of us to listen."
used with permission from the Soul Fire Farm website: https://www.soulfirefarm.org/our-team/
Champions of Transformation
planting seeds of hope for a better world
The teams at Soul Fire Farm, such as the people you see in the image, are champions of transformation. We process-relational thinkers want to support them and learn from them.
By "we" I mean folks in the process-relational community around the world committed to the ideals just and sustainable communities and to that of Ecological Civilizations. "We" are in China, Korea, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Germany, and the United States, for example.
Most of us in the US are white. We must recognize that the gardeners and farmers at Soul Fire Farm are not about teaching "us," as if we were the center of attention. Their aim is to honor the land and build community for themselves, after centuries of colonization and white supremacy. They want to train a new generation of black and brown farmers and urban gardeners who reclaim the arts of community for themselves, helping bring about a new world: just, sustainable, and spiritually satisfying.
For those of us who are white, our task is to listen to them; learn them; reclaim our own roots in the earth; honor the space they create for themselves; and not presume that they have much to learn from us. They need not subscribe to process-relational philosophy. In a spirit of humility and as allies, we recognize them as champions of transformation who plant seeds of hope. We are grateful, and we try to effect those transformations ourselves. These transformations express four hopes that are important to us: whole persons, whole communities, a whole planet, and holistic thinking.
A word about holistic thinking. Champions of transformation don't just bring big ideas such as justice and compassion down to earth, as if first we "think" and then we "act." Champions of transformation create new forms of holistic thinking from ground up.
That's what folks at Soul Fire Farm are doing. In reclaiming respect for the earth and the larger community of life - physically and spiritually, as individuals and as communities -- they are catalysts for the best (and perhaps only) hope of the world: the emergence of Ecological Civilizations. The purpose of this page is to say "thank you."