Category Archives: Love Notes Newsletter

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.”

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #4

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 hands.

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

  • Curly Green Kale (1 bunch)

  • Scallions (1 bunch)

  • Strawberry Jam infused with Chocolate Mint Leaves (1 jar) – Made from fresh strawberries and herbs on the farm. All natural and no preservatives – ingredients: strawberries, pectin, sugar, chocolate mint leaves. Please note: this is NOT shelf stable. Please keep refrigerated and use by 7/25/17. Please return the jars to your pickup or doorstep delivery spot for us to collect when you are finished.

  • Purple Top Turnips (1 bunch) – The greens are edible and delicious.

  • Salad Mix (about ⅓ pound)

  • Cilantro (1 small bunch)

  • Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash (1-2)

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

  • Sugar Snap Peas (½ pound) –  Eat the whole thing – pod and all – raw, or lightly stir fry.

  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs

  • Optional: Zesty Sprout Mix

 

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RECIPE – Sauteed Turnips and Turnip Greens with Garlic Scapes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch turnips with their greens

  • 2-3 garlic scapes, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or any mild oil

  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Directions

1. Thoroughly wash turnips, then trim greens from turnip bulbs. Set turnip greens aside to drain. Trim turnip bulb ends and thinly slice turnips. Then coarsely chop greens.

 

2. Heat garlic scapes in oil over medium heat in a large skillet until they begin to sizzle. Add the turnips and greens. Turn and coat with oil as you wilt the greens. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes to soften.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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.

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

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The Orisha Oya, a constant presence during Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion, comes with wind and storms, bringing fierce protection and deep transformation. Ase. Here we dance in celebration and gratitude after our last Hands on the Land together during BLFI Session 1, having just weeded the orchard perennial spaces where ancestral agroforestry practices live and grow.

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #3

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #3

We feel blessed to bring you these gifts of the land! Thank you for being part of the Soul Fire Farm family.

CONTENTS OF YOUR SHARE

Collard greens (1 bunch)
Lettuce (1-3 heads)
Green Goddess Mixed Herbs – recipe below! Includes some or all of these: chives (the dried flowers are edible and add flavor), oregano, parsley, mint, and dill (1 bunch)
Garlic Scapes (1 bunch) – Chop and use cooked like crisp, milder garlic, or blend into sauces and pestos.
Baby Beets with Greens (1 bunch) – The greens are edible and can be pan fried or used in salads and juices.
Sugar Snap Peas (¾ pound) – These are the lighter green peas. Eat the whole thing – pod and all – raw, or lightly stir fry.
Shell Peas (⅓ pound) – These are the darker blue-green peas. They have a tougher shell than snap peas that you don’t eat. Open up to reveal the peas inside and eat raw or cooked. Great for snacking!
Green Onions (1 bunch)
Optional: 1 dozen eggs
Optional: Mung Bean Sprouts

RECIPE – Green Goddess Dressing (Dairy-free and Egg-free Version)

Ingredients
1 bunch Green Goddess mixed herbs
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic scapes
3 Tablespoons apple cider or other vinegar
½ cup olive oil or any mild oil
½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup, or a pinch of sugar (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions
Wash herbs and strip the leaves from the stems into a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well until herbs are finely chopped and incorporated.

RECIPE – Baked Rice with Sugar Snap Peas
Adapted from Feeding a Family by Sarah Waldman. Serves 6.
Ingredients
4 Tablespoons olive oil or other oil
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic scapes
2 cups white rice (you can also use brown, and add a little extra liquid)
4 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
2 handfuls sugar snap peas, strings removed (bend an end and pull it down the length of the pea to string it)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter or non-dairy spread
2 handfuls Parmesan or other cheese (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In an oven safe pot that has a cover, heat the oil over medium heat, and add the chopped green onions and garlic scapes. Stir and cook until soft but not browned, then add the rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the broth or water to a boil in a separate pot. Pour over the rice mixture and bring back to a boil.
Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Take the pot out of the oven and add the snap peas, butter or non-dairy spread, and Parmesan or other cheese if using. Add salt and black pepper to taste and stir to combine.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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.

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


“Red beet, gold beet, striped beet, heartbeat, taste the love from every seed!” Farmers in Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion harvest beets for you in the high tunnel. Our hearts are full this immersion week with shared learning, song, and healing on the land.

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #2

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

  • Rainbow Chard (1 bunch)
  • Napa cabbage or Bok Choi (1-3 heads) – Eat shredded in salads or cooked.
  • Parsley (1 bunch)
  • Garlic Scapes (1 bunch) – Chop and use cooked like crisp, milder garlic, or blend into sauces and pestos.
  • Easter Egg Radishes or Baby Purple Top Turnips (1 bunch) – Turnips can be eaten raw like radishes, roasted, or sliced and stir fried.
  • Sugar Snap Peas (1 pound) –  These are the lighter green peas. Eat the whole thing – pod and all – raw, or lightly stir fry.
  • Shelling Peas (¾ pound) – These are the darker more blue-green peas. They have a tougher shell than snap peas that you don’t eat. Open up to reveal the peas inside and eat raw or cooked. Great for snacking!
  • Lettuce (1-2 heads) or Salad Mix (about ½ pound)
  • Scallions (1 bunch)
  • Optional: 1 dozen eggs
  • Optional: Zesty Lentil & Mung Bean Sprout Mix
 
 

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RECIPE – Rainbow Chard Salad with Lemon and Breadcrumbs

 

We are grateful to CSA member Camar Diaz for sharing this recipe, closely adapted from alexandracooks.com and food52.com

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Rainbow Chard
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or other oil, divided
  • 1½ cup breadcrumbs (or use almond meal or sunflower seeds for a gluten-free version)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, or 1 garlic scape, very finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 lemon or 3 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • ¾ cups grated Parmesan or other cheese (optional)

Makes 2 servings. This salad can serve more if you add the lettuce or salad mix or other vegetables (such as sugar snap peas, parsley, or thinly sliced radishes or turnips) from your share too and increase the lemon dressing amount made.

Directions
  1. Wash and dry the chard and remove the stems (save for cooking in another dish, or finely chop and add them to this salad). Stack some of the leaves and roll up Brazilian style into a long roll, then slice into ⅛ inch ribbons. Repeat to slice all of the leaves. Put into a large salad bowl.
  2. Heat ¼ cup olive or other oil over medium heat in a small skillet, add breadcrumbs (or almond meal or sunflower seeds, if using) and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted and golden. They will cook very fast so be careful not to burn them. Stir in the chopped garlic or garlic scapes, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir and cook for another minute, then remove from heat.
  3. If using a lemon, grate the zest into the salad bowl with the chard, then slice and squeeze juice into a small bowl (or just add the bottled lemon juice). Add 2 pinches of salt and stir in the remaining ¼ cup of oil.
  4. If using cheese, add to the chard with some of the lemon dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing or salt if you like. Stir in the toasted breadcrumbs (or almond meal or sunflower seeds if using) and serve.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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.

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

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Alumni of Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion gather for our first ever REUNION! Here we give thanks to the Earth by offering maize and sacred plants to the water, adorned with song.

Love Notes – Chamomile, Mindfulness, and Speaking Truth When It’s Hard

Love Notes – June 22, 2017

Chamomile, Mindfulness, and Speaking Truth When It’s Hard

 

Announcements

  1. Unity Tables is hosting a “Bearing Witness to Land, Food, and Race” mindfulness retreat at Soul Fire Farm this fall. We will be facilitating some of the sessions. Please join us. http://www.unitytables.org/

  2. The Summer SOULstice Party is this Saturday with DJ Truemaster, performances by Climbing Poetree, Katani, Taina Asili and more, live drumming, food vendors, and beautiful community.

  3. Check out our latest media shout outs – this article in Alternet, an interview on Contemporary Black Canvas, and our presentation at the Holyoke Food Justice Conference. Thanks of uplifting our story!

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The deluge of cool rains and persistence of overcast skies have given way to the generous sunshine of summer. And the plants are reaching up for Her, both the crops and the weeds. Our hard-working farmer team – Keidra, Jas, Larisa – have been putting in long hours to get the seedlings into the ground, harvest the crops for the Ujaama Farm Share that started this week, and protect the tender young leaves from hungry insects. We give thanks to everyone who has been showing up for community farm days to pitch in with the weeding, fencing, and clearing necessary to keep the farm ecosystem intact. Here, we liberate the bean crop from ambitious grasses.

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“We have to remember the importance of eulogizing people while they are alive.” Yesterday’s visit from the Drive Change team was just that – making space in ceremony to honor these citizens returning from incarceration who are part of a culinary training program in the food truck industry. We offered land, food, healing spirit bath, drum, and song. They offered one another stories of what each means to each, how their brotherhood has inspired wholeness. Lots of tears were shed in the sacred space. Here, we ponder the parallels between the tenderness shown to young seedlings and the tenderness that we need to offer one another in the human family.

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Part of our sovereignty is learning and practicing self-healing. Here, Emet teaches our guest how to harvest chamomile and it’s power to help with sleep, colds, and skin ailments. One of our visitors, Jaquim, took extra time to save one chamomile plant that was entangled with weeds, staking and tying it with grass to give it extra support. He named this plant Jaquim-omile and will be checking up on it’s thriving.

 

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Ayiti Cherie! We are bursting with excitement that our sister farms in Komye, Haiti are coming back stronger after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, which wiped out almost all their crops. When we were there in January, we supported them in installing irrigation for dozens of farms to allow replanting in the dry season. We also helped catalyze a peanut growers seedsaving collective. They just sent us this photo of the peanut growers picking up their allotment of seed and preparing to plant. Ayibobo!

 

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This past month, we had the opportunity to speak at the Community Food Funders annual gathering as well as to the New York State Health Foundation. It’s both a challenge and a sacred duty to learn how to speak in truth and integrity in spaces where resource and privilege are concentrated. Here we are all calling our ancestors for guidance as we do the work of uprooting oppression in the food system.

 

The land’s heart is thawing as it is kissed with the bare feet of children’s steps. Our youth food justice program is in effect with recent workshops for Albany District Links, Albany Juneteenth, and Carroll Hill Elementary School. Check out this video of the Troy elementary school students singing about seeds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejROXqB_sVo

 

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Committed food justice activists gathered at Soul Fire Farm for a training and strategy session on uprooting systemic racism in their organizations and it society at large. Each participant experienced embodied, historical analysis of the problems and worked on solution-oriented action plans. Accountability partners will check in with one another to support the implementation of these plans. At the center is the altar, built by guest facilitator Nailah, where we offered maize, gratitude, and intentions.

 

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Farmers Jonah and Jas enjoy some sweet, cold bubble tea after delivering 83 bags of vegetables to people’s doorsteps in Albany and Troy. Thank you for the blessing of being your farmers! We pray that the food nourishes you body and spirit.

Ujaama Farm Share CSA Week #1

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

 

Kale – 1 bunch

Lettuce – 1-2 heads

Bok choi – 1-2 heads

Cilantro – 1 bunch

Radishes or Rainbow Chard – 1 bunch

Sugar Snap Peas – 1/4 pound

Salad Mix – about 1/3 pound

Green onions – 1 bunch (all of the green tops can be used)

 

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RECIPE – Sweet and Tangy Kale and Bok Choi

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch kale, washed and coarsely chopped

  • 1-2 heads bok choi, sliced into 1/4″ strips

  • 1/2 bunch green onions, green tops only, sliced

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (optional)

  • 1 Tablespoon oil

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

  • 3-4 Tablespoons sugar or honey (depending on how much sweetness is desired)

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

1. Put chopped kale, green onions and bok choi in a large colander, sprinkle salt over and mix in well. Leave to drain 1/2 hour, then rinse well with water, squeezing greens slightly to wring out liquid. Transfer to a bowl and mix in ginger if using.

 

2. Bring oil, vinegar, and sugar or honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour over greens. Add red pepper flakes if using and mix well. This tastes best at room temperature or chilled as a refreshing zingy salad.

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

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. You are also welcome to attend our SOULstice party this weekend.

 

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 saute. Quick and easy.

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

 

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Shaq and kaolin clay get along very well. He’s brushing the paste onto cucumbers to protect them from bugs and then adorning himself for good measure, during last week’s youth programs.

Love Notes #6 – Magical Rooster, Black-Brown Solidarity, and Movement Ripples

Announcements

  • The summer SOULstice Party is going to be lit this year, with DJ Truemaster on the tables, performances organized by B.L.A.C.K. (Black Lives a Creative Kaleidoscope), and talented local food vendors. It’s a benefit with all performers volunteering, so please bring some flow to donate at the door and buy a t-shirt.

  • Our next community farm day is June 17 – join us for “hands on the land,” potluck lunch, and tour/discussion. We don’t have any public days again until August, so we hope to see you!

  • We have been working with other frontlines farmers and organizers across the country to define actions steps to end racism in the food system. Check out our early draft and share. It’s a longer version of what came out in our most recent YES Magazine! Article.

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Amani explains to Troy youth how the high tunnel is a climatic portal to South Carolina.

Keidra, one of the Soul Fire farmers, challenges us to ask one another and the earth, “How can I love you more?” In regards to soil, that love has come in the form of thoughtful and calculated additions of organic matter and cover crops, and strategies to move away from tillage. It has also meant increasing the number of medicinal and ancestral herbal perennials we grow, as well as culturally significant crops like fish pepper, a plant with deep roots in the Black south and Caribbean. That love has also come in the form of asking the earth for what is needed and trusting the outcome. We had a very aggressive rooster in the flock that attacked the farmers and did not respond to our domicility training, even when Jonah carried him around for hours sweet talking him. The farmers casually “wished” for a rooster replacement program, and days later a majestic white rooster emerged from the forest (no, roosters do not live wild in the forest in normal reality), circled the field for a few days, then jumped over the fence to challenge the original rooster. The visiting rooster won the battle and took over the flock, interacting gently with both hens and farmers. We are left wondering, “Can we ask for something bigger?”

 

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Ever been giddy about a board meeting? We are! These are some of the dedicated folks behind the scenes, plus Jalal, Naima, and Elena. Photo credit: Tagan Engel

 

The solutions to the world’s food crisis exist at the intersection of the wisdom of those who work the land. One of the most beautiful unfoldings of the past months has been the farmer-to-farmer exchange across the northeast, bridging the sometimes divide between Black and Brown. Over the winter, we convened the first gathering of farmers and food justice leaders of color, and since then, have been visiting and offering support to one another’s projects. For example, we visited the nascent Global Village Farms outside of Worcester, MA, which centers the food and land needs of the First Nations people of that region, including stewarding the sacred stones of the Hassanamesit Woods. There, we were able to offer crop planning and marketing strategic support. From there, we visited two sister farms in PA, Owen’s seedkeeping farm and Sankofa farm in Philly. We also had our first ever predominantly Spanish-language community farm day last weekend with volunteers from Nuestras Raices and Hudson Valley Farm Hub. After the work was done and bellies full, many lingerers climbed trees and watched tadpoles near the newly renovated pond.

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Farm tour with simultaneous Spanish-English interpretation by farmer Raul.

 

While it is a little embarrassing to share, it also seems important to let you know that we have received abundant recognition in the past months for our food sovereignty leadership. We accepted a book deal with Chelsea Green Publishing to write Farming While Black: A Practical Guide to Liberation on Land, which will turn the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion curriculum (times 10) into a full color, full length book, estimated to be on the shelves October 2018. Leah also accepted a Soros Racial Justice Fellowship which will fund the book and accompanying train the trainer program. We received the Community Food Funder champions award and the Food Project Leadership Award. We also accepted the Claneil Emerging Leaders Award. We hope that you will accept these honors along with us – because it’s the amazing work of our alumni, the tireless dedication of volunteers, the courage of our youth, and the wise input of this community that makes Soul Fire Farm possible.

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Holyoke Food Justice conference organized by Nuestras Raices. Lot of crying was taking place – which is a sign of real talk and open hearts. Loved it.

 

Our youth programs this season are off to a powerful start. We worked with School 12, an alternative high school program in Troy NY over a 2-day period. First, we guided the entire student body through a workshop on resource equity and systemic bias. The students came to the farm next day to learn composting, mulching, and perennial planting – but more than that, practices in respect for life and listening deeply to nature’s lessons. We also worked with homeless youth at Albany’s Equinox Youth Transition Shelter, teaching how to analyze nutrition labels and resist false advertising. Cohoes High School alternative program came out to the farm and were super excited about the power of herbal medicine and the capacity of Haitian stone balancing to calm the mind. We also welcomed the CEIO social justice crew from New Haven and Darrow School students on a service learning project. Together, we not only planted some beets, but headed to the Peace Pagoda Buddhist Temple nearby to help get the grounds ready for the Buddha’s birthday ceremony.

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Farmer Jas plants potatoes as we were taught by Brazilian farmers. It’s been powerful to increase our knowledge and practice of Diasporic farming methods.

 

While our public speaking season has made way for the on-farm programming season, we did manage a couple more talks this past month. The Holyoke Food Justice Conference was amazing – with almost all frontlines speakers including representatives from several tribal nations. We got to speak right after one of our heroes, Ricardo Salvador, from Union of Concerned Scientists. We also offered a tour to attendees at the National Farm Viability Conference and got connected to some folks from Tuskegee Institute, the OG of Black American agriculture. Finally, it was an honor to be able to speak on immigrant rights at the May Day Huelga! Protest in Albany. Black and brown solidarity is imperative.

 

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Tending the onions at our first ever, predominantly Spanish community day.

 

Please join us in welcoming two more Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion  “train the trainers” to our 2017 class. We are crazy happy for last year’s trainers who are running their own farms and culinary businesses, and organizing for food justice. We can’t wait to see what this year’s class will do!

 

Ulum Pixan Athohil Suk’il (Bird Spirit) – Also known as Dania Alejandra Flores-Heagney (colonizer Name) – is an indigenous mixed Woman (Maya, Xinca, Garifuna, Russian Jew and ladino), a mother and Grand mother, born in Guatemala, mesoamerica, after moving to the US in 1999, She has always organized in her country around aboriginal, women’s, language issues and the environment, she continue her work here in the U.S. as a volunteer, staff and consultant. She is a board member of the Environmental Justice league of Rhode Island, now the Farming Director at Global Village Farms and Access Co-op member owner. Ulum is a critical thinker, advocate and activist – Co-founder of Indigenous Peoples Network of RI and MA a collaboration with local indigenous peoples and people all over the state recognizing our ancestral struggles and forming unity by sharing resources, technologies and ancestral knowledge.

 

 

Cristal Alba is a border dweller from the deserts of southern califas, mestizx child to Mexican immigrants with Purepecha roots from the Jalisco and Michoacan regions. They began farming with their brother and cousin, growing and harvesting medicinal herbs, matas de chile, and jitomates. Two years ago, they moved to Chicago where they now grow indoors using aquaponic systems of food production and working at the Plant, a community of small sustainable food producers, running a farmers market for the Back of the Yards neighborhood of south Chicago.

 

Love and blessings,

 

The Soul Fire Farm Family