All posts by Soul Fire Farm

LOVE NOTES – Joyous MLK Day, and Registration OPEN for 2018 Immersions, Farm Share, and more!

“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress, our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant that it was willing to undergird its White peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm and they are the very people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. This is what we are faced with and this is a reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we’re coming to get our check.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1968 (watch the video)

REGISTRATION IN OPEN!!!

  • Ujaama Farm Share (CSA): Soul Fire Farmers will lovingly grow and deliver 20 weeks of fresh vegetables right to your doorstep in our partnership neighborhoods in Albany and Troy. The cost is sliding scale and we accept SNAP.

  • Black Latinx Farmers Immersion: Spend a week at Soul Fire Farm learning how to grow food and reclaim your personal food sovereignty. There are 5 sessions to choose from, including a Spanish-interpreted immersion in the fall.

  • Community Farm Days: Once every month, this sacred land is open to the public for “konbit” – a collective work party, potluck lunch, and tour. Open to all ages and ability levels.

  • Youth Food Justice Programs: Bring your youth group to the farm for a day or overnight visit to learn skills in food justice leadership, farming, cooking, and connecting to nature. The program is free or sliding scale, based on organizational capacity.

  • Save the Date: The dates are set and registration will open soon for the Builders Immersion, Black Latinx Youth Immersion, BLFI Reunion Campout, Uprooting Racism workshops, and more. Stay tuned!

These brave land warriors traveled through wind and snow, from PA, NY, MA, NH, and RI to be in community with other regional farmers of color. We cozied up around the wood stove to share stories of triumph and challenge during our 2017 season and continue to make connections of mutual aid between us, sprinkled with interludes of song, ritual, and laughter. We are birthing an exciting reparations project to catalyze the transfer of land and resources to the next generation of farmers of color. Stay tuned for how you can get involved.

This winter has been about focus and joyful productivity. With the plant roots resting under a frozen crust of snow, the programs thin out and the infrastructure projects resume. In just a few months, we have nearly finished the carpentry shop and canopy lodging, installing the wood stove and burning the first fires. We installed plumbing to bring water to the greenhouse and for new outdoor showers that will serve the campers coming for programs. We repaired railings, cabinets, and shelves worn out from the 1000’s of visitors to the “hive.” Thank Goodness for toe warmers, because the weather has not been gentle.

This winter has also been about community organizing! We hosted a series of Soul Food dinners in Troy to cook heritage meals together and discuss food justice. We spoke at the local Kwanzaa and MLK celebrations as well as the NYS Health Foundation and the Young Farmers Conference where our alums took a stand, demanding that the food “movement” be accountable to communities of color. We are working with youth in the local schools on personal food sovereignty and deepening our support for our alumni network through consultations and resource hook ups.  Finally, we are collaborating with AVillage and other partners to strengthen the South End Community Farmers Market.

Photo Credit: Jamel Mosely

More!!!

  • Check out Soul Fire Farm calendula seeds at TrueLove Seeds, a radical seed keeping business with a mission to keep alive our sacred seed heritage and promote community food sovereignty. Buy your garden seeds from TrueLove this year!

  • We are almost done drafting Farming While Black, Soul Fire Farm’s Definitive Guide to Liberation on Land. This book will be published by Chelsea Green in the fall of 2018. Stay tuned for updates.

  • Defeat the new Bracero bill that would cut farm workers wages and rights. Those that grow our food deserve dignity and protection under the law.

  • Thanks to YOUR resistance, we temporarily halted a draconian prison package policy that would prevent incarcerated New Yorkers from receiving fresh vegetables, among other essential items. Don’t sleep though – keep pressuring to humanize the system.

  • Check us out on NPR! We are so grateful that the media is centering the food and land movements. To free ourselves we MUST feed ourselves.

  • Finally, be sure to check out our Annual report. We worked with over 4,500 people last year toward community food sovereignty and are so grateful for all you did to uplift this sacred effort.

 

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Soul on Fire Hot Sauce!

Soul on Fire Hot Sauce

To Make 4.5 quarts

  • 120oz chilies
    • thai chilies (2.75#)
    • cayenne (2.5#)
    • peri peri (2.25#)
  • 80 cloves garlic
  • 3.3 tbsp salt
  • 1.75 cup sugar
  • 1.75 cup vinegar

To Make 1 quart

  • 36 oz chilies
  • 24 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 9 tbsp sugar
  • 9 tbsp vinegar

Combine all ingredients in the food processor. Pack into new, sterilized canning jars. Can in hot water bath for 15-20 minutes.

LOVE NOTES – Reflections on a Year of Magic, Growth, and Impact

 

SOUL FIRE FARM FAMILY NEWSLETTER 2017

And what is it to work with love? It is to sow seeds with tenderness And reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit. ~Rumi c.1248

When I get my box of vegetables, I pick up each one in my hand and think how much hard work is required. I look at each one and say “This is a miracle.” ~Jun San 2017

This was a year of hard work and surrender to the river of life. It was a year of transition, impact, and reflection. Our family has grown, with all seven Soul Fire Farm stewards – Leah, Jonah, Neshima, Emet, Larisa, Amani, and Damaris – committing to another season of tending the soil, feeding the community, and organizing for racial justice. Below, you will find each of our reflections on moments of power and connection in 2017. You can also read our annual report for more details.

Leah listened more deeply to her ancestors. During the 7th and final delegation of Ayiti Resurrect, post Hurricane Matthew, when our crew worked with the farmers of Komye to install irrigation and rebuild homes, Leah balanced her time between pounding nails in boards and pounding medicinal leaves to the beat of ceremonial drums. She came alive to those rhythms and the spicy plant dust overwhelming her senses. She carried this connection to her facilitation of our 1st ever Black Latinx Youth Immersion, a coming of age farm training program for movement youth, where she held space for the young people to name their lineage and connect to the enduring support of their people. She also carried this connection into the early months of writing her first full length book, Farming While Black, a practical agricultural manual rich with stories of our ancestors’ contributions to sustainable growing and unapologetically interweaving the material and magical. She is also considering coming out as a literal tree hugger.

Jonah became a Jewish carpenter again. If you have been able to peel Jonah from atop a building or the tractor this year, you probably noticed his tour augmented with even more emphatic hand waving and pointing. (As if possible, right?) “Here is the irrigation and swimming pond. Yeah! It has trout!” and “This is our new growing area that doubles our production capacity and ability to grow our soil fertility.” and “Here’s the teaching wood shop with accommodations for 10 in the loft…” Big news on the farm has also been working closely with Larisa to transition the farm management. It has been a beautifully rich process with opportunities for innovation, deepening our love of land, and abundant professional and personal growth. Fatherhood has proven more rewarding and challenging than ever, best defined by surrendering to emotional whims, puberty, social lives of teens, and lots of driving with Emet and Neshima in two different schools. This has meant less socializing off farm, but deepening with a few friends, his nephews (yes we welcome Micah Ariel), and a long completed book list. Finally, Jonah has recommitted to a co-counseling practice that has major implications for leading a good personal and professional life.

Neshima designed a meaningful life. Thanks to the generosity of her community, Neshima was able to be united with her dream harp, something she never imagined possible. She found the confidence to share her profound gift during performances at the synagogue and her school, always to standing ovations. Neshima completed middle school, giving a powerful graduation speech about the impact of a recent Civil Rights trip on her connection to her ancestors and commitment to social justice. Now in high school, Neshima is forging meaningful friendships and balancing a full schedule of rigorous courses, cross country, Black Student Alliance, pottery, stained glass, and music. She is also the photographer for her mother’s book, using her wages to pay her phone bill and harp insurance.

Emet ran his fastest mile time. Emet has made an unwavering commitment to his personal health and strength this year, working out several times and day and consuming no added sweeteners. He can now beat everyone in the family at arm wrestling and the one-mile run. Being twelve is not easy. There is so much homework in middle school, plus piano lessons, sports, and Bar mitzvah studying. Emet invests most of his time working diligently, rooted in his strong desire to do well. He cherishes his friendships and will spend the money he earns from youth program facilitation on gifts for them, but rarely  buys anything for himself. He especially celebrated the friendships he made and strengthened at the youth immersion. Emet is also preparing to receive his Hand of Ifa and strengthen his connection to Wisdom.

Larisa and this Land fell in love with each other. After nearly 10 continuous seasons of farming, Larisa felt newborn reverence and wonder at the slope of this sacred land, at youth pulling roots and planting seeds during intergenerational immersions, at the brilliance and beaming heart rays of her Soul Fire family. She sang childhood songs about viboras with beloved volunteers during community work days, as they read the molted snakeskins slither-shed in the straw bales like signal fires. Bowed head humility came from the lessons of Oya and the storms of the Spring, when the fields were sheets of water silvered with slug trails and even the most daunting weeds fruited to tigernuts beneath the earth. And still more joy flowed from finally listening, hearing, leaning into the hands of her ancestors palmed to her back, learning that her ancestors survived on maize sown on terraced hillsides, harvested, ground and patted to rounds with those calloused hands.

Damaris danced with dragonflies. Damaris hasn’t felt this connected to the earth since she was a child wandering through the desert around her family’s home in Arizona. During a recent visit back home in the Sonoran Desert she realized with a start that the land with which she has been cultivating relationship at Soul Fire – the land that sent snakes to welcome her, dragonflies to protect her and vegetables to nourish her – is the same land that whispered to her through saguaro blooms and ocotillo branches, stunned her with neon sunsets and cradled her in the green limbs of mesquite trees. With this realization Damaris caught a glimpse of what her West African ancestors embodied when they planted sweet potatoes into unfamiliar land as an act of restoring their connection to earth and thereby resisting their displacement. She remembers harvesting sweet potatoes at Soul Fire this fall and with them the understanding that agriculture is not a relationship of consuming from land but rather one of communicating with earth.

Amani brought it all to LIFE. Amani inspired, catalyzed, and trained hundreds of learners in the youth programs and Black Latinx Farmers Immersions this year, ending each program with a circle of action commitments. Each person shouted, “I feel evolutionary!” and the group echoed back, “Revolutionary!” After the “I will” food sovereignty commitment was made, the community affirmed, “We got your back!” This dynamism catalyzed the loving evolution of our community. Amani helped stitch our revolutionary quilt, fortified by the constant hum of magnificent beings coming through the doors of Soul Fire Farm, making the work enticing and soul sustaining. Amani is beyond grateful to be here and to be found in parts of all of us who have joined this wave of energy towards sovereignty for all humans and the Earth. Thank you.

The Soul Fire Farm family gives a shout out to Keidra Gordon and Jas Wade, farmers on this land earlier in the season, as well as Gabriela Alvarez and Ria Ibrahim, who nourished hundreds with kitchen magic, and of course all of YOU, who shared your love, resources, labor, and kind words with us this year.  This work is no small undertaking and your energy makes it possible.

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LOVE NOTES – miracle veggies, Van Jones kind words, and coming alive!

LOVE NOTES NOVEMBER 2017

Harvest Gratitude

 

The people of color caucus of our 1st ever multiracial Uprooting Racism in the Food System Immersion, discusses identity and belonging while giving love to the turnips. ~Oct 2017.

As the frost bites back even the hardy plants and outdoor programs give way to off-farm community organizing, the stillness invites us to offer gratitude. Since we last sent you a love note, we have experienced many blessings for which we give thanks.

Thank you to the ~90 folks that come out each month for our community farm days, blessing the land with your hard work and laughter. Thank you to the institutions and collectives that have invited us to speak, mobilize, and organize on the mic – namely Omega Institute, Skidmore College, Widening the Welcome, and Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference. Thank you to our incredible farm and program team – Damaris Miller, Amani Olugbala, Larisa Jacobson, Jonah Vitale-Wolff, and Leah Penniman, 100% of whom are sticking together for 2018. Thank you to WHYY for powerful radio spot and BALE for making a documentary that includes us. Thank you to everyone who donated to our sibling farm, Finca Conciencia in PR, still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Thank you for all the love and support you have been offering as we undertake the monumental task of writing Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Definitive Guide to Liberation on Land. And most importantly, thank you to the Land for bringing forth astounding bounty for our community. We hope you enjoy a few images from our autumn!

When I get my box of vegetables, I pick up each one in my hand and think how much hard work is required. I look at each one and say “This is a miracle.” ~Jun San 2017 (Image of Week 20 Ujaama Farm Share box)

“We had those people from Soul Fire up here. I notice when they were doing their thing, that they are expressing a higher civilization than the one I live in every day. It’s roots go back much further in terms of the history that’s present for them, the healing is much more present than this fight I’m in on television each day, and the vision is much more powerful. Just like a seed, they are very small right now, but I don’t know if they don’t contain some future that’s viable just like a seed does. I would have to sit in the front row and listen to them talk for a couple of weeks before I could begin to catch up to where they are.”  Van Jones, Being Fearless Conference, October 2017

“The 2017 BUGS conference was one of my most powerful experiences in my recent work around anti racism and food justice. It completely reignited my flame as winter approaches and gave me a chance to honestly reflect on my unique role and vision several transformative project seeds that I am eager to water into a world where folks are more fed more filled and more free. I️ am most grateful to have had the honor of attending. My biggest takeaway was around the power of myth and the stories we tell ourselves. My goal is to inspire the next cohort of laypersons turned Food Justice Advocates through creativity collectivism and imagination and to enact new stories that center empathy and healing.” ~Amani Olugbala, Soul Fire Farm Assistant Program Director, (Photo of Soul Fire Alumni having dinner after Black Farmers Conference, Nov 2017)

“According to African-American philosopher and Civil Rights leader, Howard Thurman, your task is not to ‘ask yourself what the world needs; [rather to] ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’ I believe that the thing that makes you come alive is integral to your destiny and will manifest if you put your prayers up and your hands to work. Do not be intimidated by the entirety of the journey, just take one step in the direction of your dream and let your ancestors help you with the rest.” (Except from Farming While Black, Chapter 2, To be published by Chelsea Green Fall 2018.)

 

Love Splash – October 2017

Love Splash

A Quick Autumn Update from Soul Fire Farm

  1. Soul Fire Farm is hiring for 2018. Please consider joining our farm team. Apply here.

  2. We are offering free youth and community educational programs in the Capital District this winter. Check out the details and sign up here.

  3. All hands on deck for Puerto Rico. Please check out this list of organizations and volunteer opportunities and give generously. Our sister farm in PR, Finca Consciencia, needs support to rebuild.

  4. We contributed to three published books this year, Land Justice, Perma/Culture, and Cherry Bombe cookbook (vegan soup joumou!). Starting in 2 weeks, we will be writing a chapter a week for FARMING WHILE BLACK, our first full book. So, be patient about those email responses. 🙂

 

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Autumn has brought a peaceful, connected beauty to this land. In this moment, we are harvesting calendula seeds to share with the radical TrueLove seeds catalogue, coordinated by our dear friend Owen Taylor. The farm has been busting at the seams these past several weeks with a gathering of 150+ Black magicians for Harriet’s Apothecary healing village, followed by a Zen Peacemakers workshop on racial justice in the food system. Off farm, Amani is doing some powerful community organizing, recently bringing together Troy-area community members for a Soul Food dinner and food justice conversation, featuring Haitian-Dominican recipes and highlighting our food justice pledge. We dropped some knowledge at Columbia University alongside our heroes from Immokalee Workers and Food Chain Workers Alliance. Our farm share boxes are bulging with melons, potatoes, and other precious gifts from the soil. Perhaps most importantly, we focused on strengthening our personal connections to self, land, and one another and exhaled into the joy of presence. Ase!

 

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Action

 

FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ACTION STEPS

By Soul Fire Farm and Community

 

Part 1: Policy Actions Steps to End Racism in the Food System

  1. Real Food for Our People.
    1. Fully fund SNAP and WIC, eliminating barriers to access. Make EBT/SNAP easier for farmers to use by allowing online payment and automatic deduction. Expand healthy, sustainable, culturally appropriate options within these programs.
    2. Fund real food access in community institutions like schools, hospitals, day cares, prisons, and senior centers. (CNR)
    3. Provide capital, credit, tax breaks, and training to worker and community-owned cooperative food enterprises that generate wealth for our people.  (HFFI)
    4. Include agriculture and food systems science in the public school curriculum.
    5. End marketing of unhealthy food and food brands to children, including in schools. End subsidies for junk food marketing by closing the tax loophole that allows corporate write offs for marketing.
    6. Treat junk food and beverage companies like tobacco companies: hold companies liable for health impacts, and include visible warning labels, restricted advertising, barriers to purchase, and raise taxes that are re-invested in community.
  2. Dignity for Farm Workers.
    1. Equalize all labor and wage laws so that farm and food workers have a living wage, health insurance, overtime, and collective bargaining. (FLSA, NLRA)
    2. End penal farms, where incarcerated people are enslaved for food production.
    3. Create supportive pathways for (migrant, seasonal) farmworkers to become land-owning farmers running their own businesses, owner-operators. Create pathways to legalization for all undocumented people, included pathways to citizenship for all those that want it, and end deportations until a comprehensive policy is in place.
    4. Support smaller and independent producers so that they can pay a living wage to farmworkers.
    5. Replace the indentured servitude of the H2A visa program with the North American Agricultural Work Visa, and uphold all provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  
  3. Community-Based Farmer Training.
    1. Include urban farmers in the USDA farming census as a unique category and provide technical support to these farmers. (Urban Agriculture Act 2016)
    2. Provide funding for farmer training programs led by people of color, that address trauma and history, and offer strategies for navigating in racist food system. These programs should take place in the community but be credit-bearing through partnerships with land grant universities.
    3. Create and host an online portal for new POC farmers to find farms run by POC and get training there.
    4. Secure and protect land access and non-predatory credit and capital for independent producers, particularly producers of color
  4. Economic Viability for Farmers.
    1. Use public funds to pay farmers for preserving and enhancing ecosystem services and guarding the public trust (water purification, carbon sequestration, pollination, genetic diversity). This should be paid for by a tax on  industrial agriculture which needs to pay for their externalities – dead zones in aquatic ecosystems, aquifer depletion, killing pollinators. Conventional agricultural should need a “certification” for their practices, rather than have that burden placed on organic farmers. (EQIP, CRP)
    2. Offer price supports and price parity for farm products to ensure that income from crop sales cover the expenses of producing those crops. Include non-commodity, heritage and cultural crops in these programs.
    3. End the practice of unfair contracts siphoning earning from farmers to enrich corporations. (Producer Protection Act)
    4. Equalize and expand access to crop insurance, technical assistance, non-GMO seed, equipment sharing, low interest credit, and technical assistance for independent producers, particularly producers of color. Include free legal and accounting clinics. Fully fund the Office of Advocacy and Outreach at the USDA. (Minority farmer advisory board, FSA targets for minorities, Land Contract Guarantee Programs, and transition incentives program of USDA)
    5. Increase access to markets for farmers of color through food hubs, processing centers, farmers markets, and farm to institution programs.
    6. Reduce paperwork burden for federal and state farming grants. Increase government staff support of application process. Make grants accessible to small farmers who are not incorporated. Move application period to winter season. Eliminate matching funds requirements.  (USDA 2501)
  5. Reparations for Stolen Land and Wealth.
    1. Reparations are necessary in the form of land and wealth redistribution to those who had land and wealth stolen from them – African American, Latinxs, Indigenous people. Establish a commission to study reparations and propose a comprehensive redistribution of wealth and land. (HR 40)
    2. Enforce a moratorium on foreclosures of Black land – create a national trust or community-based organization that absorbs Black farmland and transfers it within the black community. Implement the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act in all states.
    3. Create and implement farmer debt forgiveness programs in cases of discrimination. USDA should refinance loans for black farmers.
    4. End “tied aid” policies that flood international markets with surplus commodities, and undermine smallholder farmers. End corporate land grabbing abroad.  

 

Part 2: Actions for Individuals to End Racism in the Food System

  1. Encourage your school, business, or other institution to sign on to the Good Food Purchasing Program (Real Food Challenge for colleges and universities.)
  2. Support existing community work led by those directly impacted by the issues, rather than adopting the “savior complex” where outsiders garner resources and “outreach” to community.
  3. Put your skills to work supporting a farmer or food business owner of color. Farmers often don’t have enough time to attend to the administrative aspects of their operation, like grant writing, web design, social media, marketing, legal research, and blogging. A partial directory of black-operated farms can be found at this Google doc. Reach out to see if you can help.
  4. Share the resources of your business or organization. If you have a photocopier, meeting space, grant writer, accountant, lawyer, food, money, or any other good or service – offer that resource to community-led work.
  5. Create good jobs. Hire people who might otherwise be overlooked in the capitalist economy – people of color, formerly incarcerated people, those without documents, elders, those with disabilities. Offer jobs with training built in, a living wage, health care, and job security.
  6. White people should consider strongly working with other white people, especially those who voted for “45,” to raise consciousness and build support for these issues – rather than “organizing” people of color.
  7. Uplift Black and Brown expertise, both ancestral and current. People of color exist and thrive beyond the oppression narrative. Instead of imaging that the best practices in food, farming, and movement building are ahistorical – find our how people of color created and improved upon them, and celebrate those individuals. Invite Black and Brown experts to teach in your organization/community, and not just about racial issues. Offer fair compensation for their knowledge rather than expecting to “pick their brain” for free.  
  8. Read the HEAL Food Alliance and Movement for Black Lives Policy Platforms, which offer pathways for land reparations and a just food system. Take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of the text and then host a discussion group at your congregation or workplace with the goal of having these organizations endorse and implement these platforms.
  9. Encourage your local farmers, supermarkets, and the food related not-for-profits you are involved with to join the Domestic Fair Trade Association and to seek Food Justice Certification through the Agricultural Justice Project. Both groups uphold high standards for fair treatment of workers and care of the environment.
  10. Catalyze your community to raise funds to help your local farmer provide affordable produce to the most vulnerable—refugees, incarcerated people, and those living in food deserts. Organizations such as the Corbin Hill Food Project and D-Town Farm have models for doing this, using sliding scale pay systems, doorstep delivery, and farmers’ markets near neighborhood schools.
  11. Get educated. You can learn more about structural racism in Rewriting Racial Rules: Building an Inclusive American Economy and in The U.S. Farm Bill: Corporate Power and Structural Racialization in the United States Food System.
  12. Read “Part 1” above and use your sphere of influence over politicians, corporations, and other community-members to advance those aims.
  13. Donate to organizations like; Land Loss Prevention Project; Cosecha; Federation of Southern Cooperatives/LAF; Southern African American Organic Network; Tuskegee University and 1890 land-grant Institutions; Black Family Land Trust; HEAL Food Alliance; National Black Food and Justice Alliance; Black Urban Growers; Black Land Loss Prevention Project; Restaurant Opportunities Center; La Via Campesina; Food Chain Workers Alliance; Familias Unidas por la Justicia; CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee; Farmworker Association of Florida; Centro Campesino;  Lideres Campesinas.

 

Part 3: Actions for Foundations to End Racism in the Food System

  1. Streamline Applications and Reporting: Donors, organize in your giving community and create a common application and common reporting format. Set up one online portal where we can put all of our information one time. Donors can work together to figure out how to make sure frontlines organizations are funded. This will increase the amount of time frontlines groups have to do the work on the ground.
  2. Respect: Donors, please hold your privilege consciously. Much of the wealth being distributed was accumulated on the backs of exploited people, often the ancestors and relatives of these grassroots organizations. It is an honor for donors to get to be in relationship with frontlines organizers. Please do not pressure organizers to spend social time with funders, please respect personal boundaries, and do not use patronizing language, e.g. “boy or girl” referring to organizers.
  3. Calendaring: Their is a current trend for donors to be in relationship with grassroots organizers and to move beyond “transactional” relationships into something more meaningful. While this is laudable, it also means that organizers are expected to spend more and more time with donors. In many cases, this becomes a full time job and little time is left for the mission work. Please request, not demand, time from organizers, giving months of advance notice. Please be conscious of non-Christian holidays and pre-existing community commitments in your scheduling.
  4. Incentivize Sanity: Donors, please work to change culture where grantmakers demand “over-promising” and constant “innovation.” Celebrate depth over breadth. Fund reflection. Invest in metrics that get at transformation beyond what we can quantify.
  5. “Partnering:” Larger nonprofits should apply for the big government and other challenging grants and write emerging organizations into the grants transferring wealth to frontlines, take little for themselves, transfer most. Large nonprofits and government should donate administrative resources – grantwriter, accountant, bookkeeper, database subscription, data entry, blog writer, web development, videography, graphic design, etc. so frontlines communities can “do the work” and not get bogged down with administration.
  6. Geographic and Class Equity: Prioritize funding for the Deep South, focused on organizations led by the communities they serve. Look beyond “academic speak” when reviewing applications, prioritizing instead people’s deep lived experience in movement work. Provide video/audio application processes instead of exclusively written applications.
  7. Racial Equity: Work together with the grantmaking community to conduct a racial justice assessment of where donors are currently investing and what kind of disparities exist and strategies for correcting those inequities. Provide translation services to applicants.
  8. Funding What Counts: Grantmakers, please  fund general operating expenses, “overhead,” salaries, insurance, as well as the tangibles – seeds, greenhouse plastic, and shovels. It takes both people making a living wage and farm infrastructure. Enough with the deference toward “projects”, “innovation” and “direct costs.” Look around to see who is doing the real work and fund those people, letting us decide exactly how to allocate resources. All grants should be multi-year and renewable. Consider a donor advised fund which would be managed or directed by farmer groups to rotate loans and credit- tangible resources our folks need. Please see “Part 1” for the systemic change that needs to be funded.

 

Love Notes – climate justice, tomato suckers, and living as if we have arrived

Soul Fire Farm Love Notes, September 2017

 

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What does lettuce intercropped with broccoli have to do with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Katrina? So much. The impacts of global climate chaos are disproportionately impacting people of color and communities without wealth and societal power. Immediate disaster relief and spiritual support for people is imperative. We also need to halt and reverse climate change now as a matter of survival. Our Indigenous-African ancestors gave us the technologies to farm in harmony with the atmosphere and ecology; intercropping, mulching, reduced tillage, and cover crops actually trap carbon in the soil, where it belongs. Agriculture is the #1 driver of climate change and producing food correctly can be at the root of the solution.

 

Announcements

  • We hope to see you at one of our upcoming public events, Harriet’s Apothecary Healing Village on September 17, a food justice discussion at Columbia University on September 25, and our fall community farm days.

  • Help us end all forms of state-sanctioned violence by attending the CAAMI Forum to End Prison Abuse Sept 11 and the Weaving a World Without Violence conference Sept 14-15. Our sibling activist organizations in the Capital Region are making these events possible, and Soul Fire Farm salad will there to taste!

  • We are thrilled to welcome our newest farmer, Damaris, to the Soul Fire Farm team. She has experience working on the land from the Carolinas to the Himalayas and brings a deep love of justice and reverence for the earth.

 

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We have had the honor to train and learn from 93 new farmers, 313 youth, and 552 community activists so far in 2017. The summer programming season is so intense, there is not always time to reflect on its power and magic! We finished up our first ever Black Latinx Farmers Immersion 2.0 for more advanced growers, and one participant earned university credit for their work through Goddard College. We offered 1:1 consulting sessions with every participant to help them access the resources needed to manifest their community food sovereignty visions. We are taking power back!

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We are learning lessons in pruning by following the example of the tomato. In this skit, BLFI participants demonstrate how the suckers (succulent side shoots) of a tomato mirror the enticing overcommitments of modern life. While it’s painful, the suckers must be removed for the plant to thrive. We also have to choose fewer foci so that we can do this social justice work from a place of wholeness and self-love.

 

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Everyone belongs here on this land, in this community. We have intensified our efforts this year to make sure that our actions align with our values to include people in our programs regardless of documentation status, age, gender, ethnicity, and other intersectional identities. This has meant self-education as well as action to update safer space guidelines, provide childcare, and fundraise for #solidarityshares to get food to families of immigrants and refugees. If you have not already spoken up to save DACA, please take a moment to act now.

 

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Finally, please check out the beautiful alumni photo cards created by our Board members Taina and Kristin, with volunteer support. We are so honored to be connected to these powerful individuals.

 

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Times are challenging. This is not new, but perhaps the awareness of the struggle is intensified through our online interconnectedness. Even as we continue to work for our dignity and sovereignty, we need to live as if we have arrived.

 

Look up at the sky. Dance. Love.

 

In solidarity,

 

Leah, Jonah, Larisa, Amani, Damaris

 

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Ujaama Farm Share Weeks 5-9

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #5

We pray that this food nourishes your body and spirit! Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family. Enjoy the bounty of the land and the work of our hands.

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Green Garlic (1 bunch) – These can be chopped and eaten as they are or set out to dry on your counter to keep for a while.

  • Rainbow Chard (1 bunch)

  • Broccoli (1 head or 1 bunch) or Yellow Summer Squash (2)

  • Green Beans (about ½ pound)

  • Green Cabbage (1-2 heads)

  • Lettuce (1-3 heads)

  • Celery (1 bunch) – This thinner celery can be used like an herb to add flavor to soups, sauces, salads.

  • Zucchini (1-2)

  • Garlic Scapes (1 bunch) – Chop and use cooked like crisp, milder garlic, or blend into sauces and pestos.

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Lentil and Zesty Sprout Mix

 

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Photo by Seaq Robinson, Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion Session 2

RECIPE – Cabbage Peanut Slaw with Garlic and Celery

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped green garlic

  • 1 garlic scape, finely chopped

  • ½ bunch celery, finely chopped

  • ½ cup chopped or crushed peanuts (optional)

Dressing

  • 3-4 Tablespoons honey, depending on how sweet you prefer

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup apple cider or other mild vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed) (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

  1. Mix dressing ingredients in blender or food processor or stir vigorously by hand.

  2. Mix remaining ingredients, pour dressing over them, and mix well to coat slaw with dressing.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CHICKEN FOR SALE: Farm-fresh, pasture raised chicken available for order. Please reserve your birds today. Chickens can be delivered with your share next week.

EVENTS: COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-2:30 Potluck lunch. August 26, September 23, October 28, and November 18. RSVP here.

WASH YOUR VEGGIES:  We DO NOT extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer. It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them. For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times. Dirt will rinse to the bottom. Bugs should float to the top.

KEEP FOOD FRESH, EASY: Store leafy greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To revive wilted greens, dunk them in ice water and dry in salad spinner or with gentle toweling. To make it easier to use greens on the go, wash and chop them in advance and store them in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can just grab a handful to add to your eggs, smoothie, soup, or sauté. Quick and easy.

 

This week began the second session of our Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion, welcoming a beautiful collective of budding earth stewards. The nourishing food you’ll enjoy in your share was harvested by the group with loving intention and energy- enjoy!

 

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #6

Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family. We’re grateful to be able to bring you these blessings from the land!

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Cucumbers (2)

  • Carrots (1 bunch)

  • Collard Greens (1 bunch)

  • Green String Beans (about ½ pound)

  • Yellow String Beans (about ¼ pound)

  • Green Curly Kale, Dino (Lacinato) Kale, or Purple Stalk (Red Russian) Kale (1 bunch)

  • Lettuce (1-2 heads) or Salad Mix (about ⅓ pound)

  • Dill (1 bunch)

  • Zucchini and/or Yellow Summer Squash (1-2)

  • Garlic Scapes (1 bunch) – Chop and use cooked like crisp, milder garlic, or blend into sauces and pestos.

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Lentil and Zesty Sprout Mix

 

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RECIPE – Pasta Salad with String Beans, Squash, Cucumber, and Dill

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound corkscrew or other short pasta (gluten-free if desired)

  • A handful of green string beans, strings and ends removed, chopped in half

  • A handful of yellow string beans, strings and ends removed, chopped in half

  • 1 zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly crosswise into half moons

  • ½ bunch garlic scapes, finely chopped

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced

  • A few sprigs dill, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, canola oil, or any mild oil

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil or other mild oil

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package directions and rinse in cold water.

  2. Heat the 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat in a large pan, then saute the garlic scapes, zucchini or yellow summer squash, and green and yellow string beans 2-3 minutes until just tender.

  3. Add the sauteed vegetables to a big bowl with the pasta. Add the chopped cucumber and dill.

  4. Mix the dressing ingredients, pour over the pasta, and mix well. Chill if desired or serve at room temperature.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CHICKEN FOR SALE: Farm-fresh, pasture raised chicken available for order. Please reserve your birds today.

EVENTS: COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-2:30 Potluck lunch. August 26, September 23, October 28, and November 18. RSVP here.

WASH YOUR VEGGIES:  We DO NOT extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer. It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them. For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times. Dirt will rinse to the bottom. Bugs should float to the top.

KEEP FOOD FRESH, EASY: Store leafy greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To revive wilted greens, dunk them in ice water and dry in salad spinner or with gentle toweling. To make it easier to use greens on the go, wash and chop them in advance and store them in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can just grab a handful to add to your eggs, smoothie, soup, or sauté. Quick and easy.

 

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Seventeen young people join us this week for the Black and Latinx Youth Immersion, gracing the land with their brilliance and sharing laughter, drum class, stories, pond swimming, ancestral staff crafting, group harvests of peas and carrots and garlic, and tent sleeping under the stars. Here they bring their voices to the page through poems and drawings as Farm and Food Justice Educator Amani leads a workshop on poetry for social change.

 

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #7

Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family. We’re grateful to be able to bring you these blessings from the land!

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Cucumbers (2-3)

  • Scallions (1 bunch)

  • Beet Roots (about ½ pound)

  • Sugar Snap Peas (about ⅓ pound)

  • Green String Beans (½ pound)

  • Yellow String Beans (a handful to combine with the green beans if desired)

  • Green Curly Kale, Dino (Lacinato) Kale, or Purple Stalk (Red Russian) Kale (1 bunch)

  • Thai Basil or Genovese Italian Basil (1 bunch)

  • Zucchini and/or Yellow Summer Squash (1-2)

  • Fresh Garlic (2 heads) – we leave these unwashed so that they will store longer. They can be chopped and eaten as they are or set out to dry on your counter to keep for a while.

  • Bok Choi (1-3 heads)

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Mung Bean Sprouts

 

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RECIPE – String Bean and Basil Slaw

 

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine.

 

Ingredients

  • ½ pound mixed green and yellow string beans, ends trimmed off and sliced into ¼ inch pieces

  • ½ cup torn basil leaves

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh or bottled lemon juice

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or other cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine beans, cheese (if using), and basil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat well.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CHICKEN FOR SALE: Farm-fresh, pasture raised chicken available for order. Please reserve your birds today. Chickens will be available this week (August 2) for on-farm pickup and next week (August 9) for delivery with your CSA share.

RETURN YOUR BOXES AND JARS please. You can leave them where you get your delivery. If you break them down, please make sure not to tear or bend any of the tabs. Or just leave the assembled box for us, and we are happy to break it down.

EVENTS: COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-2:30 Potluck lunch. August 26, September 23, October 28, and November 18. RSVP here.

WASH YOUR VEGGIES:  We DO NOT extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer. It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them. For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times. Dirt will rinse to the bottom. Bugs should float to the top.

KEEP FOOD FRESH, EASY: Store leafy greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To revive wilted greens, dunk them in ice water and dry in salad spinner or with gentle toweling. To make it easier to use greens on the go, wash and chop them in advance and store them in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can just grab a handful to add to your eggs, smoothie, soup, or sauté. Quick and easy.

 

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Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion Session 3 participants (including beloved Soul Fire DJ, DJ Trumastr!) spin their recently gained knowledge and love for land-based liberation into theater and rhyme during our “Around the World” skillshare. We are grateful that this powerful constellation of seed sowers and truth speakers has landed at the farm.

 

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #8

Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family. We’re grateful to be able to bring you these blessings from the land!

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Collard Greens (1 bunch)

  • Cucumbers (2-4)

  • Fresh Onions (1 bunch) – These have a slightly milder, sweeter flavor than cured storage onions. They are best eaten within a few weeks, or kept refrigerated if you would like them to last longer.

  • Purple Top Turnips (1 bunch)

  • Green String Beans (about ¾ pound)

  • Celery (1 bunch) – This thinner celery can be used like an herb to add flavor to soups, sauces, salads.

  • Parsley (1 bunch)

  • Zucchini and/or Yellow Summer Squash (1-2)

  • Salad Mix (about ⅓ pound) or Lettuce (1-2 heads)

  • Napa Cabbage (1-3 heads), Green Cabbage (1-2 heads), or Bok Choi (1-3 heads)

  • Eggplant (1-2) in some of the shares this week. Those of you who did not receive eggplant today will have it in your shares over the next few weeks. Everyone will receive the same amount of eggplant over the season.

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Mung Bean or Brown Lentil or Zesty Sprout Mix

 

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RECIPE – Parsley and Collard Greens Pesto

 

This pesto has a deep flavor and is packed full of powerhouse nutrients!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of collard greens, washed, ribs removed from the leaves, and chopped

  • ¾ cup sunflower seeds (you can also use many types of nuts, such as walnuts or pistachios)

  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and roughly chopped

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • 2-3 garlic cloves (to taste)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 3-4 Tablespoons lemon juice (optional, and to taste)

  • ½ cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients but olive oil and cheese (if using) to food processor and blend well.

  2. Add olive oil in a stream to food processor and blend until smooth. Remove from processor and mix in cheese if using.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CHICKEN FOR SALE: Farm-fresh, pasture raised chicken available for order. Please reserve your birds today. Chickens are currently available for on-farm pickup and will also be available for delivery with your CSA share the week of August 23.

RETURN YOUR BOXES AND JARS please. You can leave them where you get your delivery. If you break them down, please make sure not to tear or bend any of the tabs. Or just leave the assembled box for us, and we are happy to break it down.

EVENTS: COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-2:30 Potluck lunch. August 26 (Vitale-Penniman family away this day), September 23, October 28, and November 18. RSVP here.

WASH YOUR VEGGIES:  We DO NOT extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer. It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them. For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times. Dirt will rinse to the bottom. Bugs should float to the top.

KEEP FOOD FRESH, EASY: Store leafy greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To revive wilted greens, dunk them in ice water and dry in salad spinner or with gentle toweling. To make it easier to use greens on the go, wash and chop them in advance and store them in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can just grab a handful to add to your eggs, smoothie, soup, or sauté. Quick and easy.

 

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We’re still celebrating bursts of growth and joy from last week’s Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion Session 3 as we prepare to welcome the next group of magic-making learners for BLFI 2.0, our first ever advanced immersion. So many hands and hearts have worked to tend the earth, bringing forth the food in your shares. Every participant in every education program here plays a part in this oldest pact with the land – that labor offered in love and care will sustain us with mutual nourishment.

 

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #9

Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family. We’re grateful to be able to bring you these blessings from the land!

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Edamame (Soybeans) (1 bunch) – Remove beans from pods and eat raw or take pods off of plant and cook in boiling salted water 3-5 minutes, then open pods and eat beans.

  • Sungold Cherry, Plum, Heirloom, or Slicing Tomatoes (2-4) – A selection that may include red, pink, orange, yellow, and/or purple tomatoes. We are just at the start of our tomato season (a bit late this year due to weather) so amounts are small for now. Tomatoes that are not totally ripe yet will ripen in 1-3 days on your counter.

  • Cucumbers (5-7)

  • Fresh Onions (2-4) – These have a slightly milder, sweeter flavor than cured storage onions. They are best eaten within a few weeks, or kept refrigerated if you would like them to last longer.

  • Carrots (1 bunch)

  • Green or Yellow String Beans (about ¾ pound)

  • Thai or Genovese (Italian) Basil (1 bunch) – The flowers are edible and taste like the leaves. They’re great added to soups, salads, or pasta.

  • Green or Red Romaine Lettuce (1 head or bunch)

  • Zucchini and/or Yellow Summer Squash (1-2)

  • Scallions (1 bunch)

  • Curly Green, Lacinato, or Purple Stem (Red Russian) Kale (1 bunch)

  • Eggplant (1-2), Hungarian Hot Wax and/or Jalapeño Peppers (1 small bag), OR Green Bell Peppers (2)

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Mung Bean Sprouts

 

 

 

RECIPE – Summer Tomato Fried Rice

 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked white or brown rice

  • 4 Tablespoons sunflower or any mild vegetable oil, divided

  • 1 bunch scallions, greens and white parts, chopped

  • 1 zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced in half lengthwise then sliced into thin (about ⅛” thick) half moons

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

  • 1 large heirloom tomato, 2 medium slicing tomatoes, 3 plum tomatoes, or 5 sungold cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, any kind

  • 1 handful of green or yellow string beans, end removed and beans chopped into ½” pieces

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (optional)

  • A few leaves of Thai or Genovese (Italian) Basil, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat. Add the scallions and garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds to a minute or so, not letting garlic brown.

  2. Add chopped tomatoes, pinch of sugar, vinegar, and pinch of salt. Stir well and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes have broken down and are beginning to get jammy.

  3. Add chopped string beans and squash or zucchini, stir and cook for 2-3 or until vegetables are just tender. Remove from heat and pour vegetables into a bowl.

  4. Heat remaining 2 Tablespoons oil in same pan (no need to clean it) over medium high heat. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Stir fry for a few minutes until rice browns and crisps slightly. Add soy sauce or tamari (if using).

  5. Add vegetables back in and stir to combine. Salt to taste and stir through sliced basil if using.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

WE ARE HIRING A FARMER! http://www.soulfirefarm.org/meet-the-farmers/employment/

CHICKEN FOR SALE: Farm-fresh, pasture raised chicken available for order. Please reserve your birds today. Chickens are currently available for on-farm pickup and will also be available for delivery with your CSA share next week (the week of August 23).

RETURN YOUR BOXES AND JARS please. You can leave them where you get your delivery. If you break them down, please make sure not to tear or bend any of the tabs. Or just leave the assembled box for us, and we are happy to break it down.

EVENTS: COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-2:30 Potluck lunch. August 26, September 23, October 28, and November 18. RSVP here.

WASH YOUR VEGGIES:  We DO NOT extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer. It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them. For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in waterfor a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times. Dirt will rinse to the bottom. Bugs should float to the top.

KEEP FOOD FRESH, EASY: Store leafy greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To revive wilted greens, dunk them in ice water and dry in salad spinner or with gentle toweling. To make it easier to use greens on the go, wash and chop them in advance and store them in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can just grab a handful to add to your eggs, smoothie, soup, or sauté. Quick and easy.

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The youngest participant in BLFI 2.0 learns how to harvest and sort turnips. It is an honor and blessing to have two very young ones of the land this week, reminding us who we are, and why we don’t give up on justice work. This session focuses on the needs of experienced farmers who are ready to manifest their own projects across this country. We offer 1:1 coaching sessions with the facilitators and dive deep into action planning. It has felt like a healthy and healing practice as attacks on our people’s sovereignty become more visible. Thanks for believing in us and supporting the work!

 

 

Lots of Love, Few Notes

Please forgive the long silences between our poetic, image-rich updates. This time of year is 24-7 with back-to-back Black Latinx Farmers Immersions, abundant harvests of roots and fruits from the dark soil, and youth spilling out over the land in joy tornadoes. We will tell you the beautiful stories when fall begins to whisper. In the meantime, we want to share a couple of important announcements and a hopeful photograph. The Empire would like us to get discouraged and acquiesce in these challenging times, but our ancestors didn’t give up on us, and we will not give up on our descendants.

 

  1. We are hiring a farmer to join our crew for the fall and possibly beyond. Please spread the word. http://www.soulfirefarm.org/meet-the-farmers/employment/

  2. We are currently hosting our first ever Advanced BLFI and one of the participants had her sister and niece hit by that car in Charlottesville. Please support this fundraiser for their medical and mental health expenses. Also, please reflect on the importance of Soul Fire and other liberation spaces that hold our community in times of trauma.

  3. We are writing a book this winter! Farming While Black: A Practical Guide to Liberation on Land will take all of our BLFI lessons and Soul Fire farming practices and turn them into a “how to” for reclaiming ancestral ways of being with earth. It will be out in October 2018, published by Chelsea Green! Details to come.

  4. Thank you to Hudson Valley Magazine and NRDC for the recent articles about Soul Fire Farm!

 

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Participants in BLFI Session 3 jump for love on the last morning of the program. This is one of the six immersion sessions held at the farm over the season, providing space for technical farm training, strategies for ending racism in the food system, and support for healing in relationship to the land and one another.

 

LOVE NOTES – Righting History’s Wrongs, Strawberry Jam, and Climate Change

Announcements

  1. You probably noticed that we separated out the Love Notes from the weekly Ujaama Farm Share newsletter. If you are eager to discover what we are harvesting each week on the farm, you can still see the newsletter on our website.

  2. We want to see you! Some upcoming events that are still open include the Beatshot Music Festival this weekend, partial proceeds to Soul Fire. Then we have our August community work day.  There are also a few spots left in Unity Table’s “Bearing Witness to Land, Food, and Race” at Soul Fire Farm.

  3. Check out our latest media shout outs, including  a cover story in The Alt, and an article in Country Woman Magazine.

  4. Finally, please support the Victory Bus Project in getting a new van so that incarcerated people and their loved ones can stay connected and get farm fresh food. Thank you!

 

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Why are these folks bubbling over with joy and laughter? It’s because we just weeded the apple orchard and made space for an herbal understory of bee balm, chives, chamomile, echinacea and dozens of other plant allies. But more than that, we are happy because we spent a whole week together learning how to be activist-farmers as part of Session 1 of Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion. We explored our learning edges in community too – the ways we need to grow toward gender justice and toward accountability. As one participant shared,  “[This was a] dynamic once-in-a-lifetime experience, that opened my eyes to a completely new way of engaging and navigating systemic social violence and oppression. It helped me to regain my voice, not be afraid to share, to cry, to live.”

 

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There are no words big enough to say how much we love and cherish the youth that visit this land for healing and learning. Recently, we welcomed Malcolm X Grassroots Movement New Afrikan Scouts, Schenectady High School Roots, and Youth FX. We are nerds, so we love our farming-cooking-revolution-leadership curriculum, but the real magic is, “I found a snake!” then “Oooooh, let me hold it!” and “Do you want to hear a creation story about the snake?” and “Yes, we want to hear.”

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An old-timer neighbor of ours stopped to chat and shared, “I’ve been here for 40 years and have never seen rain like this. They say climate change isn’t real, but you know, they might be wrong.” We have had deluges of rain this spring, which does not bring out the best in our heavy clay, poorly drained soils. We are talking more seriously about what climate resiliency looks like – as warmer winters fail to reduce pest populations and floods leach nutrients. Pictured here, we break up cementy clods by hand (too wet for tractor) and press bean seeds in one-by-one (too wet to furrow.) Luckily, plants are committed to life and even send their roots upwards to avoid drowning!

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“Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.” ~Wendell Berry  In the soils we workshop at the recent Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion, we explored soil texture, macro- and micro-nutrients, and amendments. Which, is a fancy way to say that we learned how to nurture the living substrate that feeds our people. Behind the scenes, we have been talking closely with some folks at the United States Department of Agriculture as well as private foundations about strategies for making sure these nascent farmer-activists-soil stewards get the land, credit, capital, and support they deserve. Let’s hope action follows words, but it is heartening to know there are individuals passionate about “righting history’s wrongs.”

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The SOULstice party is one those, “Is this really my life?” kind of days. Over 300 community members joining for our biggest celebration of life all year. Young ones rolled around on the newly built dance floor, pond lingerers enjoyed tacos or sushi or platano, the sun departed leaving a dusk rainbow… then a full lineup of local talent opened hearts – revolutionary, black, and earthy. Live drum dance circle by Jordan Hill and rhymes by Katani interspersed with DJ Truemaster’s beats, who outdid it again, keeping the dance floor lit until 4 AM when the rooster crowed. Campfire laughter as the sun rose, brunch on the grass, children building towers of scrap wood. Lingerers eating fish soup, breaking Ramadan fast, weeding kale, reflecting on the blessing it is to be here in this place, fully alive, tasting freedom. Thank you to all of the volunteers, friends, and family who made this weekend magical!

 

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What do the following things have in common? (1) reviving a family farm in VA (2) bringing teens to Ghana to study agriculture (3) starting gardens in Boston Public Schools (3) teaching food justice to engineering students (4) counseling children off of ADHD medication using diet (5) campaigning for healthier public school lunches? HINT: They are all examples of what graduates of Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion are doing to advance food sovereignty! We had our first ever BLFI Reunion bringing together 3 years of land-loving, committed visionaries. Pictured here, we cast our gratitude and intentions on these living waters.

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Emet is not-so-patiently waiting for the strawberry jam to be done so he can lick the pot. We had so much fun turning our fresh-picked Soul Fire strawberries into preserves for the families in the Ujaama farm share. Doing the extra for our people is our way of saying, “We love you! Thank you for being part of our extended family.”