Love Notes April 2016 – On the Heart Path

By Leah Penniman


It’s Spring and Soul Fire Farm is back in full effect! The seedlings are emerging and just today our power house farm crew arrived to make our 2016 family complete. Please join us in welcoming Ravonne Thorne, Hannah Slipakoff, and Cheryl DeSanctis. They will partner with Leah and Jonah in growing your food this year as well as running food justice education programs for the community.

Ravonne Thorne, Hannah Slipakoff, and Cheryl DeSanctis join the farm crew



We want to offer a low bow of gratitude to all of you for supporting us during the Sabbatical year as we paused crop production to focus on developing our physical, organizational, and spiritual infrastructure. Thanks to your donations,volunteer time, and love, we were able to finish the beautiful barn and apartment loft just in time to house our farm crew and program guests. We also had the mixed blessing of navigating the bureaucracy of nonprofit organization development, and know more about leases, IRS forms, payroll, and contracts that we ever knew existed. Still, we have prevailed in creating a solid organizational foundation that will allow us to better serve our people. Siempre adelante.

The beautiful barn loft ready to host



Please join us in offering a sincere congratulations to the sixty learners who were accepted to Black and Latino Farmers Immersion (from a pool of over 150!) with a special welcome to our “train-the-trainer” leaders Anandi Premhall, Amani Olugbala, Christopher German, Veronique Williams, Naima Penniman, and Keisha Cameron and our kitchen goddess Gabriela Alvarez. Four out of the seven trainers are BLFI alumni! We have started hearing back from our graduates that BLFI enabled them to take leadership in farming and food justice – from returning to farm family land in the South, to teaching plant medicinecourses, to establishing community gardens, to organizing for policy change, and even joining the most prestigious agroecology program in the country. We are hopeful and confident that our extended Soul Fire community will rewrite the story of food injustice and alienation from land – we are winning.

BLFI Trainers 2016
2016 BLFI Trainers Keisha Cameron, Christopher German, Anandi Premlall, and Amani Olugbala




We have been seriously busy getting the word out about food sovereignty and want to thank the many organizations that hosted us and listened to us over the past few months, including the African American Cultural Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Brown School, Oakwood Soul Cafe, NOFA NY, Young Farmers Conference, Farm School MA, Culinary Institute of America, Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association, Soul Cafe Albany, Wildseed,Goddard College, Just Food Conference, WAMC, Caribbean American Association, Laura Flanders Show, and Harvard Divinity School. These events ranged from fancy nationwide keynote speeches to intimate neighborhood meetings and all were deeply valuable and meaningful.


Natural plasters workshop at Wildseed

One of the most valuable lessons garnered from our time living in Oaxaca, MX (aside from all the amazing agroecology knowledge shared by fellow campesinos) was our deep love for one another as family and for the land that we steward. Increasingly Leah was finding that her full time public school teaching job was making it impossible to inhabit her love for her family and her work on the land. After months of soul searching and job searching, she accepted a part-time environmental science teaching position at the nearby Darrow School. This means that after the final school bell rings on June 23, Leah will have much more space in her life to attend to her destiny as an earth-based, radical educator and community mother. It’s a big deal to trade in “security” for the heart path, but we are trusting and listening.

Leah at ocean
Getting free, following the heart path


There are so many, many ways for you to get involved with Soul Fire Farm this season and also for you to support the larger movements for food sovereignty in society. Jump on it though, because many opportunities are nearly full.




Complete Calendar with Seed Saving, Ancestor Healing, SOULstice Party and moreKeep checking back for calendar updates. We will be holding a number of workshops on farming, food justice, activism, and land-based healing.


Community Work Days and Volunteer Opportunities: We hold monthly public community work days on the farm for people to learn new farming skills, break bread together, and celebrate the abundance of the land. We also welcome ongoing volunteers in specific roles, such as graphic design, accounting, cooking, etc.


Youth Food Justice Empowerment: Focused on the needs of urban youth, especially those in foster care or trapped in the criminal injustice system, our programs forge powerful connections with the land and with self. Young people spend 1-5 days on the farm for an intensive, loving training.  Youth gain skills on farming and harvesting, cooking with whole fresh foods, leadership, business development, and food justice.


Undoing Racism Farmers Immersion: URFI is a 5-day on-farm training in sustainable farming and undoing racism. As part of the workings of Soul Fire Farm, participants create an intimate community to delve into healing and responsibility from the legacy of white supremacy on a personal, societal and global level. We will achieve this through working together and with the land, storytelling, movement, community cooking and meals, theory and praxis.  


Farm Share CSA: Still space available for the 2016 season! Based on the African principle of ujamaa – cooperative economics, Soul Fire Farm Share is a partnership between the community and the farmer. We provide a weekly delivery of 10-15 nutrient rich, naturally produced vegetables directly the doorsteps ofCapital District families living in communities affected by food apartheid, and to incarcerated people and their loved ones. Shares are sliding-scale based on income. We also directly accept EBT/SNAP.


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.


Public Speaking Events and Custom Activist Trainings: From prisoner justice to climate justice, our struggles for a world of dignity, empowerment, and sustainability are intertwined. Those of us on the front lines of social and environmental change understand the need to periodically step out of our everyday context to rejuvenate, strategize, learn, and connect. We offer facilitation in five focus areas: dismantling oppression, intersection of all movements with food sovereignty, inclusive communication, strategic planning, and cross pollination.


Haiti Rising 2017 Final Delegation: We have close relationships with small-scale growers in Komye, Haiti. Through idea exchange, mutual aid, and movement organizing, we are fighting for global food sovereignty. We have collaborated with the mango growers of Leogane to plant thousands of trees, establish composting systems, create solar dried value add products, and build living erosion barriers.


Support Soul Fire: There are now even more ways to contribute your resources and talent to Soul Fire Farm. Thanks for your love and support!


Check out the work of our sister organizations fighting for food sovereignty and support their campaigns – US Food Sovereignty Alliance, What Ferguson Means for the Food Justice Movement – Why Hunger, National Black Farmers Association