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