Love Notes #1 – June 15, 2016

By Jonah Vitale-Wolff


Contents of Share20160614_063659edit

  • spinach (~¼ pound)
  • arugula (⅓ pound) (best for braising)
  • Lettuce (1-2 heads)
  • cilantro (1 large bunch)
  • parsley (1 bunch)
  • Green onions (1 bunch)
  • Easter egg radishes (1 bunch)
  • Bok choi (1-2 heads or bunch) (cooking green)
  • optional: mixed lentil and zesty sprout mix



  • PASTURE-RAISED CHICKEN. We will be offering our delicious whole chickens three times this season. Chickens are raised on pasture, all natural, young and tender. They are $4.25 per pound. Birds dress out at 4-6 pounds. We will have 50 birds for sale in late June, late July and mid August.  Sign up soon, as they sell out quickly. Signup HERE.
  • EGGS and SPROUTS. For those of you who ordered eggs with your shares, we expect them to be available in mid-July.  We will notify you before we start delivering them.  Invoice for eggs and sprouts will happen at the same time.
  • COMMUNITY DAYS. 8-1 Work and learn together. 1-230 POtluck lunch. July 17, September 24, October 22, and November 12.  RSVP here.

    When you need a snack and youre hands are too covered with mud. From June community day.
    When you need a snack and youre hands are too covered with mud. From June community day.
  • You do not need to return your bags.  When we switch to boxes, please RETURN YOUR BOXES.  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.
  • WASHING 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.
  • All of our newsletters are archived on our website, along with lots more, including educational resources and more recipes.  Thanks!
  • Summer SOULstice Party. Saturday June 25. Celebrate with us! Performances and dance party! Some new things this year:
    • We are giving you all an opportunity to support our work with a $5-25 suggested donation.
    • There will be fresh new Soul Fire t-shirts for sale.
    • Food vendors and community cooks will be selling food with proceeds going to benefit our work
    • Ride sharing:
  • Ayiti Resurrect is seeking your support.  Leah and dear sister Naima are core organizers for this 7 year project in their homeland of Haiti.  Delegates are in Haiti right now, installing a well that will be the sole source of clean water for over 1000 people in the rural Komye community.  Please read more here and donate what you can to this final year of a powerful project.


Free School youth free from their shoes, helping prepare beds for planting.


After more than a century of decline, the number of Black farmers is on the rise.

This excerpt is from Leah’s latest article in YES! Magazine Highlighting the Stories of 10 Black Farmers.  Read the entire article here.


A few years ago, while clearing dried broccoli stalks from the tired soil of our land at Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York, I received a cold call from Boston. On the other end was a Black woman, unknown to me*, who wanted to share her story of trying to make it as a farmer.

Through tears, she explained the discrimination and obstacles she faced in a training program she’d joined, as well as in gaining access to land and credit. She wondered whether Black farming was destined for extinction. She said she wanted to hear the voice of another African-heritage farmer so that she could believe “it was possible” and sustain hope.

The challenges she encountered are not new. For decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against Black farmers,excluding them from farm loans and assistance. Meanwhile, racist violence in the South targeted land-owning Black farmers, whose very existence threatened the sharecropping system. These factors led to the loss of about 14 million acres of Black-owned rural land—an area nearly the size of West Virginia.

“As Black farmers, we need to be more than just growers of food,” Bolden-Newsome says. “We have to be teachers of culture and healers of trauma. That is how we survive.”


*To see what Kafi Dixon is up to now, check out Seeds of Change Solidarity Network.


RECIPE – Arugula Pesto


This peppery pesto is fantastic drizzled over steamed artichokes, grilled fish, or ripe tomatoes. This recipe first appeared in SAVEUR Issue #140 along with Laura Schenone’s story Glorious Pesto.  MAKES ABOUT 1 3/4 CUPS


Visitors from all walks of life. This snapping turtle laying her eggs in our hoophouse.


2 cups packed arugula

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 cup finely grated pecorino (optional)

12 cup finely grated parmesan (optional)

13 cup pine nuts, rawm hulled sunflower seeds, or almonds

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1 clove garlic, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



Process arugula, oil, pecorino, parmesan, nuts, zest, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.



We are ready. We arrive at this blessed moment and take pause in the flurry of our busiest time of year, between weeds, harvest, community, programming and snapping turtles.  It is this moment we pack the bags to their brims for our first farm share distribution of the season.  Our farm team of Cheryl, Ravonne and Hannah have now been here for almost a month and a half.  As the food has matured and come into maturity, so have our dynamic relationships of being a team, holding the container to grow this food.  Cause this is so much more than a bag of veggies.  It is all the hands that have touched this land already this season.  Youth.  Community groups.  Learners, teachers, elders.  All with stories that inspire and feed this place.  


In this spirit of the abundance we are privileged with, we hold present space for mourning for the latest atrocity in Orlando.  Our hearts and prayers go out to friends, families, loved ones, and all those now living in more fear than before.  We honor and follow the lead of our queer Black and Latinx organizers in Orlando Black Lives Matter.  Here is their statement.


We also ask ourselves, “What is our role here on the land?”  As stewards of this land, we honor that she has the capacity to support us through these times when nothing else seems to make sense.  She can absorb so much trauma, hurt, pain, suffering and still have compassion and capacity for healing.  It is in the land we walk on, the trees and animals, and, we hope, the food we grow that we find source to rise up, move forward, and remember to stay connected.


Pause.  Moment.  Breath.  Gratitude.


It is also with delight that we get to report all of the wonderful happenings at the farm this past month.  We have been busy with our different collective group planning for the three sessions of Black & Latinx Farmers Immersion as well as our new program, Undoing Racism Farmers Immersion.



Leah will be wrapping up 9 years of teaching at Tech Valley High School, and 14 years as a full time biology teacher.  Before doing so, she brought close to 70 of her students to the farm as part of one of their projects on climate change, carbon sequestration and sustainable agriculture.

Raising the frame with calculated direction from Emet.



On a gray and rainy day last month, we welcomed a group of students of all ages from The Albany Free School.  We hold such a special place in our hearts for The Free School.  What originally, brought our family to the area.  When it rains, many group retreat inside.  These young people were eagerly barefoot in the mud, prepping beds, and catching raindrops in a downpour.  We shared food, and created musical numbers advertising healthy food.

Our farm team member Hannah comes from Philadelphia, with deep connections in the sustainable agriculture and birth networks.  She organized a day visit from a Philadelphia based farmer training program.  We could have spent a week together sharing knowledge and questions.


We were honored to support Schenectady group Miracle on Craig Street, through some organizational planning and strategy and relationship building.  Such grassroots work is essential to the fabric of our communities, but can be so strained with all volunteer work and deeply passionate and ambitious visions.  This group is raising funds to open a community center and community garden.  

Barn porch frame is complete. And ideal place to hang a hammock. Now for the roof!


On the farm we had our June Community Day.  Despite the rain, a dedicated and joyful crew came out.  We raised the timber frame porch on the barn which will be the final installment for housing for our immersion programs.  The crew also helped take a chunk out of the June weeds and mulch bare soil, because June is real when it comes to wild plant growth.  From the sounds of laughter and singing from drenched fields, one could never tell the extent to which we were soaked to our skin, but rather the joy of co-creating on the land together.


Off the farm, we were recognized this past month with several awards.  We share this news with humility and deep appreciation of the recognition, and are also aware of the many folks who work just as hard and go unrecognized. These awards comes with gratitude for those who took the time to say “thank you” cuz truth is we are putting out lots of effort and love.  Leah was chosen for the 40 Under 40: The Rising Stars in New York City Food Policy.  Thank you also to the Justice Studies Association at SUNY Albany for awarding us the 2016 Social Justice Award.  May all this be for the good of our people.

We also celebrate so much life with the Geminis in our lives (I’m sure there are more).  Leah and our dear friend and comrade Jalal celebrated together with a community gathering at the Wildseed Collective.  And Emet’s birthday today!  We also just learned, that longtime shareholders and dear friends Simon and Molly just welcomed a healthy child into the world last night!


Abundant blessings for your week!

We love our Geminis!