Plenty #14: Farming While Black

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Good day to you, dear sustainable food enthusiasts! I am your host, Jason Velázquez, and I thank you for tuning in to Episode #14 of Plenty. On this week’s show, we hear from Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.

Every year, Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York trains over 100 predominantly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people to take leadership as farmers and food justice organizers in their communities.
Every year, Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York trains over 100 predominantly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people to take leadership as farmers and food justice organizers in their communities.

Before we get into the episode. I have to pause to say that I was so excited…and so grateful, to get the notification yesterday that this podcast network just gained a new member at the $1 per month level. Think I’m crazy for getting jazzed about that? I don’t think I am. In total, the Greylock Glass has about 3,000 followers, and the number is growing every day. Imagine if every one reading our articles and listening to our podcasts kicked in a $1. That would be pretty close to a livable wage. Together with the members who are able to give $5, $10 or more, all those $1 memberships would really add up. And that would bring this news station a lot closer to our goal of creating more jobs in alternative independent journalism.

What about you? Do you have a monthly dollar you wouldn’t miss too much if you put it to work building a news source you care about? Why not become a member today? Thanks! Now, on with the show.

Leah Penniman; photo by Jamel Mosely, Mel eMedia.

I spoke at length to Leah Penniman about her just released book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. Penniman is a founding co-director of Soul Fire Farm, established in 2011 in Petersburg, NY, with the mission of restoring the inherent right of Black and Brown people to belong to the earth and have agency in the food system. Her work at Soul Fire includes farmer training, international solidarity, food justice organizing, writing, speaking, “making it rain,” and anything that involves heavy lifting, sweat, and soil.

Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land.

With Farming While Black, Penniman, hopes to extend her work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim agency in the food system.

Having read the book, I can tell you that she’s packed so much information into this volume, if she’d wanted to, she could have spread it out over at least two, maybe three titles.

Farming While Black officially releases October 30, 2018.
Farming While Black officially releases October 30, 2018; purchase options here.

She speaks October 27th, at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in Great Barrington, Mass. with Ed Whitfield, co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. I was fortunate to speak with her ahead of that engagement at length about her book, her work, and the critical place that people of color have in forging the future of this planet’s food system.

I encourage you to visit Soul Fire Farm on the Web to find out more about the really exciting work and projects they have going on most of the year. The link is in the shownotes of course, as is a link to purchase Farming While Black, but if you can remember “soulfirefarm.org” you’ll find them.

That’s our show for this week. I’ve been your host, Jason Velazquez, and until next time, eat as well as you’re able.

Jason Velázquez, editor
Jason Velázquez, editor

Jason Velázquez has worked in journalism and publishing for the better part of 20 years now, even though he knows it’s a filthy habit. He writes the shows, sets up and records the interviews, edits the audio, and publishes the episodes. He also handles the web page maintenance, marketing, sales, finance, and administration. He would welcome an e-mail from you. If, however, you have confidential or sensitive information to pass along, please visit our Contact Page to learn about more secure options.

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