Love Notes December 2015

Dear Family;

 

Soul Fire Farm is trust falling into community. We are widening our definition of “self” – no longer just a single family and the sacred land that we steward, but a community sharing power, decision-making and responsibility. The “we” of Soul Fire now includes our power team Board of Directors, our newly hired farm manager apprentices, Cheryl DeSanctis, Ravonne Thorne, and Hannah Slipakoff, and 50 committed volunteers. Check out the beautiful photos and bios of these activist, healer, grower, doula, artist, chef, educator, entrepreneurs!

revolution based on land

We have set our intentions for 2016, including an 80-member Farm Share CSA (sign up!) that prioritizes households in food deserts, farm training programs that are relevant to people of color, land-based youth empowerment and transformative justice, international solidarity work with Haitian farmers, carbon-negative biodiversity-positive farming, and conscious support to activists engaged in the movements to end oppression. We also hope to gracefully conclude the time-consuming dance with the IRS and attain 501(c)3 status so as to diversify income streams and allow us to pay living wages. Ase.

 

In Gratitude for a Year Well Lived

 

This land is increasingly a source of healing, learning, and growth for the larger community. Recently, YouthGrow visited the farm from Worcester, MA. They are a youth-led food justice organization that runs an urban farm and mobile market. Jonah and I started this program fresh out of college and were awed and humbled to see how it had matured and increased its impact. Also this month, a group of organizers from Hudson Valley Farm Hub came to Soul Fire to strategize about dismantling racism and oppression in their ProFarmer Training program. From Harriet’s Apothecary black women/trans healing village, to Adamah Jewish farmers, to adult farm trainees from 17 states, to local youth making joy tornadoes through the fields – we are making space to respond to the learning and healing needs of our people. Here’s the totals, because we are nerds and like to make charts.

awakening of self

# People In 2015 # People Since 2012
Youth Program 145 636
Activist Training 118 176
Farmer Training 55 113
Community Event 390 1610
Total Participants 708 2535

so good to be alive

This year we honored Shmita, allowing most of the land to rest in restorative cover crops and taking a break from the full Farm Share CSA. With the farm work lessened, we were able to invest time into infrastructure, building a barn and loft apartment to increase our capacity to house trainees and get food to the community. We also increased our commitment to sharing what we have learned about farming and food justice. We spent the first 5 months of 2015 in Mexico and Haiti, exchanging knowledge about farming and food systems, writing curriculum, and publishing articles. Food First has asked us to collaborate on a book chapter on African American agrarianism and we are giddy with possibility to be advancing the national conversation on Black Land. We are so grateful for the volunteers who have really come through this year, helping with everything from legal documents to roofing. We are still seeking DONATIONS and volunteers, so please help if you are able.

 

In 2015 Since 2012
Published Articles 9 5
Presentations/Conferences 38 48
Families Receiving Food 25 232
Bushels of Food Distributed 180 4160
Volunteer Hours Donated 3770

The Heart

bare feet on soil

Lots of people ask for our “curriculum,” which we share freely but with the caution that there is no script for the magic that transforms despair into hope. There are no shortcuts to infusing heart and soul into the learning experience. There were many precious moments on the land in 2015, but one remains especially delicious in my memory. At the first session of Black and Latino Farmers Immersion, while one crew made lunch and another crew finished up some transplanting – a spontaneous, slowly building, rhythmic harmony erupted from those gathered, pulling the scattered crews into the kitchen to jump, chant, dance, and shout “Revolutionary Love! I love my people! Freedom!” At the end of the program (and most every program) we hear the impossible from participants, “If resilience were a cup, mine would be overflowing… I want to cry because it feels so good to be alive at this moment. This is what it would be like if we were free.”

 

We are “all in” for freedom and so honored to be called to this work.

 

Have a blessed, connected, and powerful 2016.

 

Love,

 

Leah, Jonah, Neshima, Emet, Che, Hannah, and Ravonne
to free ourselves

Graphic Design Credit: Naima Penniman

Photo Credit: Capers Rumph, Jonah Vitale-Wolff