Food Justice Course


Soul Fire Farm’s

2016 Sustainable Farming and Food Justice Course

In Collaboration with Goddard College




Leah Penniman

Jonah Vitale-Wolff

Guest Facilitators TBA



2 credits available for students who enroll at Goddard College after successful completion of the Soul Fire course

(By completing additional post-immersion work at Goddard College under the guidance of Goddard professors, students who enroll in Goddard college may also earn an additional credit, for a total of 3 credits.)


A dynamic blend of the hands-on and the theoretical, this course explores social justice dimensions of today’s globalized food system while offering practical skills in sustainable agriculture. In the course preparation phase, learners independently explore the foundational ideas underlying the movements for food sovereignty and racial justice in the food system. Learners then gather at Soul Fire Farm for a 50-hour immersion in agroecology and food justice, living and working together at a farm that serves as model for democratizing the food system. After the immersion, learners complete additional independent reflection and action to connect their experiences to a local context.


Course Preparation (20 hours)

Reading List

  • Alkon, A. H., & Agyeman, J. (2011). Cultivating food justice: Race, class, and sustainability. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (Chapters 12, 14)
  • Barker, C., Francois, A., Goodman, R., & Hussain, E. (2012). Unshared bounty: How structural racism contributes to the creation and persistence of food deserts.
  • Bauer, M., & Stewart, M. (2013). Close to slavery: Guestworker programs in the United States.
  • Bowens, N. (2015). The color of food: Stories of race, resilience and farming. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers. (part 2 – Rooted in Rights)
  • Carpenter, S. (2011). The USDA discrimination cases: Pigford, In re black farmers, Keepseagle, Garcia, and Love. Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, 17(1), 1-35.
  • Food Chain Workers Alliance. (2012). The hands that feed us: Challenges and opportunities for workers along the food chain.
  • Gilbert, J., Sharp, G., & Felin, M. S. (2002). The loss and persistence of black-owned farms and farmland: A review of the research literature and its implications. Southern Rural Sociology, 18(2), 1–30.
  • Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Chapters 1-4)
  • Liu, Y. Y. (2012). Good food and good jobs for all: Challenges and opportunities to advance racial and economic equity in the food system.

Course Preparation Assignment

After completing the assigned readings and referencing other texts of your choosing, please write a 1500-2000 word essay that addresses the following prompt, “What are the existing barriers to a just and sustainable U.S. food system and how are communities dismantling these barriers?” Please use MLA format for the essay, including the bibliography.


Immersion (50 hours)

Learners must apply directly to Soul Fire Farm for inclusion in our immersion programs. The weeklong immersions vary in focus, so the workshop topics may be slightly different depending upon your program. There are immersions designed for Black and Latino farmers, aspiring trainers, families, white people committed to dismantling racism, etc.


In 2016, the immersion programs are scheduled for the following dates. Participants will select ONE of the following programs.

June 27-July 2 Black & Latino Farmers Immersion

July 10-15 Undoing Racism Farmers Immersion

July 24-29 Black & Latino Farmers Immersion

August 14-19 Black & Latino Farmers Immersion


Workshop Topics During Immersion

Hands on Farming Workshops Farm Planning Workshops Food Justice Workshops
  • preparation of permanent raised beds
  • cover cropping
  • making, applying compost and mulch
  • planting from seed, transplanting
  • ergonomic use of hand tools, efficiency and alacrity
  • demystifying the tractor
  • pest management – cultural controls, row covers, etc.
  • perennial management – fruits, nuts, and herbs
  • caring for laying hens and meat birds, processing eggs
  • safe and sanitary processing meat birds
  • harvesting, packing and distribution
  • farm mapping and crop rotation
  • farm and business strategic planning
  • seeding and transplanting calendar, planning for markets
  • interpreting soil tests – macro and micro nutrients and pH
  • organizing the whole foods kitchen – culturally relevant meals
  • Certification
  • Bookkeeping
  • preserving the harvest – canning, drying, freezing
  • History of Black farming in USA
  • History of Latino farming in USA
  • History of First Nations farming in USA
  • Global food sovereignty movement
  • Sliding scale
  • Working with EBT
  • Reparations and land reform
  • Food deserts and structural racism in the food system
  • Food workers in USA
  • Policy priorities for food justice movement


In addition to workshops, there is time for reflection and integration. Immersion participants engage in singing, meditation, theater, peer listening, art making, storytelling etc. as a means of advancing our own healing and building community.


Post Immersion Application (10 hours)


Please identify specific skills that you attained during this course and take action to apply them to the benefit of your local community. You will keep a Paulo Freire inspired Praxis journal where you make records of your action-reflection. Examples of actions taken by past immersion participants:

  • A European-heritage person makes a conscious decision to take direction from local people of color and attends a food justice meeting, offering to help in whatever way is necessary. The group offers that their real need is childcare and food preparation. The participant offers her skills and reflects in her praxis journal on appropriate and inappropriate roles for white people in the movement to end racism in the food system.
  • A participant notices that the local public school garden has fallen into neglect over the summer vacation. He organizes a few community work days and teaches neighborhood children basic growing skills. They cook and eat the produce together.
  • A program alumni chooses one of the policy priorities we discussed during the immersion and organizes a social media and letter writing campaign to pressure politicians to update the law.
  • A participant volunteers to write a grant to support the city community gardens program. Another volunteers for a local farmer who needs support preparing the soil for winter.


Praxis journals are due within 30 days of immersion completion.