Garden Therapy – Nov 18, 2018 – INTERVIEW· SOUL FIRE FARM
Gardening is therapy to so many of us and yet there is ecology and politics behind growing food that limits that opportunity for far too many people. Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm and author of the just released book Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is working to change that. Soul Fire Farm is an organization designed to uplift and empower farmers of color through practical skills and fostering a connection to the earth.
We have been fans of Soul Fire Farm on social media where they share snippets of stories, politics, and culture like this fascinating video about the Afro-Indigenous roots of many common vegetables that we normally think of as having European origins. When Farming While Black was announced, we immediately approached them to ask for an interview. Just a brief conversation with Leah Penniman covered a lot of complex issues including race, an oppressive food system, and the writing process.
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. But you will quickly see that it is also so much more. A practical farming guide, a memoir, and history book intertwined on the pages, Farming While Black is a must read for everyone who loves plants and the healing benefits of working in the soil.
In Conversation with Leah Penniman
Garden Therapy: First, for our readers who don’t know, can you tell me a little about Soul Fire Farm and its mission?
Leah Penniman: Soul Fire Farm is a people-of-color-led community farm in Grafton, New York. We are committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system and we do that in three ways.