Love Notes #3 – BLFI Deadline, Regional Organizing, and Water Magic

Love Notes #3 – February 22, 2017

Peace family,

Want to immerse in land-based healing and learn skills to feed your community? There are only 8 days left to apply for Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion by the priority deadline. Want to receive weekly deliveries of life-giving food to your doorstep? We still have openings in the Ujaama Farm Share! Want to bring youth to the farm? We are almost booked for our summer youth food justice program, so sign up now to schedule a visit… Read on for updates about regional organizing, upcoming events, and an exciting announcement.

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Just yesterday, we convened the first ever regional gathering of farmers and food justice leaders of color in the northeast. Among the POC-led formations represented were Rise and Root Farm, Wildseed Community Farm, Nuestras Raices, Gardening the Community, Corbin Hill Food Project, Wellington Herbs and Spices, Movement Ground Farm, and Soul Fire Farm. Our primary goals are mutual aid and joy-centered relationship building. We will be working toward a “food justice corridor” of people-information exchange in the region. The ages of farmers present ranged from 13 to 80. Ase-O!

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In this time of climate instability, careful water management is essential. With the permission of the Spirit of the pond, we are renovating it to once again serve as a reservoir for irrigation and fish habitat. What was recently only a few feet deep and clogged with silt will soon be 18 feet deep and hold over 60,000 gallons of water for the crops and wildlife. Water is life and without it we have no food for our community.

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Organize! Wintertime for Leah is very much about regional organizing for food justice and racial equity. She recently facilitated a training for student farmers at Farm School, MA (where she farmed as a teen) to help them craft business plans that integrate a social justice imperative. We’ve been working with the Young Farmers Network in Providence and Real Food Challenge on anti-racism strategy. We also collaborated with other farmers nationally to draft the first CSA charter and are supporting Young Farmers Coalition in conducting a national survey of our needs as farmers. The last of our winter speaking events are coming up – check us out at Williams College 2/24, Montclair State University 2/28, NOFA CT 3/11, Just Food Conference 3/12, and Eastern Mennonite University, 3/20-21.

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So about that book! It’s happening! For years, our community has been asking us to take all that we teach at Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion in terms of concrete farming skills, African ancestral agricultural practices, culturally relevant cuisine, strategies for accessing land and resources, et al into print. Specifics to be announced soon as deals are in the works, but trust that Farming While Black: A Practical Guide to Liberation on Land © will be in your hands sometime in 2018. We are super excited to uplift our people’s farming practices, like these Komye, Haiti farmers above who channel irrigated this degraded land to bring it back to life. We will be looking for a RESEARCH ASSISTANT to help with the book, announcement soon.

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The sap is rising in the trees and the snowpack is starting to melt. This means spring is almost here! To prepare for growing thousands of veggie seedlings, we are transforming one of the high tunnels into a heated, vented greenhouse. Please send Jonah hugs and warm energy – it’s been a challenging task to do all the necessary wiring in the cold of winter. Once finished, this will be a huge improvement from growing all of your seedlings sprawled out across of living room and kitchen. Jonah is also working to renovate the wood shop so that it’s suitable for teaching – we have our first natural builders immersion this fall. Upstairs from the shop will be some additional rustic lodging for program participants. Finally, Jonah is replacing the slop sinks and cobbled together shelves in the bathroom with real built ins for your washing comfort.

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In collaboration with local black women survivors, we are organizing a Transformative Justice training for the community, seeking mechanisms for community accountability that uphold the humanity of everyone involved and do not rely on the police state for enforcement. As part of the reflection process leading up to this training, we crafted our commitments to treating one another as fully human. We hope that love and justice advance inexorably in movement spaces.  

Our squad is complete! We are so excited to welcome Amani Olugbala back to the farm as our Food Justice Educator and Gabriela Alvarez as Kitchen Goddess. Amani is already live, having just met with Project Growth leadership team to start planning our 2017 “restorative justice” diversion program for court adjudicated youth. Full crew bios here.

Finally, we want to shout out our friend and board member, Tagan Engel, for her new podcast The Table Underground. She recently interviewed sisters Naima and Leah Penniman about heart-led activism – listen here.

 

Wishing you a gentle and powerful week!

Soul Fire Crew