Love Notes – 2018 Annual Report, new job posting, and BIPOC FIRE applications are open!

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., from A Christmas Sermon on Peace (1967)

“Foresight” by Naima Penniman.

“In many ways our 2018 season grew like a sapling. Much like how a tree’s roots can grow to be two to three times the diameter of its canopy, this year we emphasized strengthening and nourishing the soil of our initiatives and the substrata of our network.” These beautiful words come from our 2018 Annual Report, lovingly put together by Damaris. Read about our 2018 farmer training programs, youth education, community outreach, mentorship programs, regional organizing, CSA, infrastructure developments, and more!

Announcements:

  • Farming While Black is available for purchase on Powell Books, an independent bookstore in Portland, and Indie Bound, a website that connects consumers to local, independent bookstores in their area. Reserve your practical guide to liberation on land today!

  • Farming While Black also may be coming to you! Check out the dates and locations for the book tour here. Public speaking requests for next Fall are due by February 15, 2019! We will notify people who have put in requests with confirmations by March 1. Requests can be made here.

  • Applications are open for BIPOC FIRE! Black-Indigenous-People-of-Color Farming in Relationship with Earth is an immersion program designed for novice and intermediate growers to gain basic skills in regenerative farming and whole foods preparation in a culturally relevant, supportive, and joyful environment. Applications close on March 15, with the priority deadline being March 1. Click here to find out more information about the program.

  • We have a job opening for a brand new position: Construction and Facilities Assistant! A description of the position and responsibilities is listed on our website, as well as a link to the application.

  • A dear friend and member of the Soul Fire team is looking for 2019 housing somewhere between Grafton and Troy that has a private bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, wifi, and rent under $500/month for April-November. They are willing to work trade as part of rent. Email damaris@soulfirefarm.org with any finds. Thanks!

  • Signups are open for our Ujamaa Farm Share CSA program for the 2019 season for those living in the Albany/Troy region!

  • This year at least 14 refugee and immigrant families will receive FREE vegetable delivery with your support. Please pitch in for a Solidarity Share today.

  • The Seeding Power Fellowship is an innovative 18-month, cohort-based fellowship program for 12 experienced food justice leaders in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and Long Island. Seeding Power is unique in both the region it serves and the focus on movement building in food systems, as opposed to more traditional leadership programs that focus solely on individual skill-building. Fellows receive a $5,000 stipend and participate in five in-person retreats along with monthly peer coaching calls as part of an emergent curriculum centered on racial equity and social justice. By providing a peer learning space to develop a shared analysis of the issues plaguing our food system, the Seeding Power cohort will graduate with strengthened cross-sector relationships and skills to advance individual, organizational and movement-related goals. Application deadline is January 31st, 2019!

  • The first annual Northeast Queer Farmer Alliance for rural and urban LGBTQI folks is happening on January 26th, co-hosted by Wildseed Community Farm, Linke Fligl & Rock Steady Farm! For more info, check out the Facebook event.

  • Support a BLFI alum fundraising to support future acupuncturists of color in Portland, Oregon, sustaining the legacy of healers of color in restoring health in our communities!

  • In the past month Farming While Black and our work at Soul Fire has been highlighted in Food Tank, GBP Radio News, The Collaborative Magazine, the Urban Farm Podcast, New York Public Radio, the Young Farmers Podcast, Edible Brooklyn, Hudson Valley Magazine, and The Table Underground. Also, check out this beautiful conversation with Leah and Karen Washington about belonging to the land and listen Leah’s full interview with Laura Flanders on Youtube or as a podcast.

  • And for folks who plan on visiting the farm, please drive slowly on our road. The speed limit on our road is 10 mph, and we request that folks do not turnaround in a neighbor’s driveway out of respect for our neighbors. If you miss the turn, continue down Route 2 until you reach the next actual road from either direction, Josh Hall Pond Rd traveling West to East, or Taconic Lake Road traveling East to West. Thank you!

Ceci, Leah, Jonah, and Naima in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Baba Donald Halfkenny taught us that Black farmers were integral to the Civil Rights Movement. Black farmers coordinated campaigns for desegregation and voting rights and provided food, housing, bail money, and safe haven for other activists. Taking on such important roles was possible for farmers who worked for themselves and therefore could not be fired for participation in the civil rights movement, as Leah writes in Farming While Black. In the United States, a nation founded on settler-colonialism, land ownership is a form of economic and social power, as illustrated by the central role Black farmers played in the civil rights movement. For that reason, white supremacists were threatened by the autonomy and independence of Black farmers and violently drove many Black farmers off the land.

Leah offering a presentation on land trusts in Spanish.

To combat this violence, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee collaborated with Charles and Shirley Sherrod to found New Communities in Albany, Georgia in 1969, the first community land trust in the nation based in the idea of collective land ownership and cooperative farming. Collective land ownership is a way to both access and leverage political power as a community while resisting traditional ideas of private land ownership. This December, Northeast Farmers of Color members Naima, Jalal, Ceci, Gabriela, and Leah (along with Jonah, Neshima, and Emet!) were in Puerto Rico with farmers to provide support in establishing their own land trust in Puerto Rico to resist land loss as a result of military occupation and U.S. imperialism, gentrification, and disaster capitalism. They visited sibling organizations like Finca Conciencia in Vieques, as well as Fideicomiso de Tierra Caño Martín Peña, Huerto Semilla, and Organización Boricua.

Amani at MLK Day at Empire Plaza in Albany.

Amani was at the Women of Color March in Albany this past weekend, a space for women and non-binary folks of color to check-in and say “Are you okay, sis/sib?” Topics like disability justice, supporting sex workers, and self-care were discussed, and Amani describes feeling “incredibly fed” by the event. Amani was also at the Empire State Plaza in Albany during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Observance Program, talking with people about our CSA and the work we do. This year, Tu B’Shvat, an ancient Jewish celebration of the new year for the trees, fell on Martin Luther King Day. Jewish and Black Americans, both targeted by white supremacy in the United States, have historically formed alliances with each other, and “Shabbat Dinner: Dr. King’s Teachings in the Current Climate,” an event hosted by Repair the World and Hazon in Harlem where Leah spoke, explored the intersection between these two holidays.

Leah at the NOFA NY Winter Conference.

Winter is a season of rest, hibernation, and farming conferences! Larisa hosted an “Uprooting Racism in the Food System” workshop at NOFA MA, where participants explored strategies to dismantle inequity and restore ancestral farming and food systems. Leah spoke at the Virginia Biological Farming Conference, where a white landowner approached her after the keynote, resolved to give her business away to a Black employee, and at NOFA NY, reconnecting with people from BIPOC FIRE and meeting other folks doing incredible food sovereignty work.

Reparations Map for Black-Indigenous Farmers.

Leah also collaborated with Groundswell Center to host an information session about the structure and work of the Northeast Farmers of Color (NEFOC) and ways farmers of color and white farmers can get involved or take action to support the network and the Reparations Map for Black-Indigenous Farmers. Oppression underwrites our food system, and a tangible action we have taken for addressing food security and food sovereignty issues in our communities is taking reparations into our own hands through the creation of this map. We recognize that the food system was built on the stolen land and stolen labor of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other people of color. We also know that we cannot wait for the government to acknowledge that stolen wealth and land must be returned. If you have resources you want to share contact a farmer directly to share them, or if you have a project you want to include on the map contact us!

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This month’s Love Notes was written by Lytisha Wyatt.