Love Notes – Late summer harvests and programs, building timber frames and connections

“Nestling seeds into warm soil, pruning revolutionary tomato plants, swimming in the pond that the land allowed us to have I was reminded that when we work together towards a shared dream, the land gives us its blessing and we all heal together.” 

From BIPOC FIRE participant feedback
NEFOC network gathering.

This weekend we had the honor of hosting a Northeast Farmers of Color (NEFOC) network gathering on the land we love and steward. We are amazed at the incredible work Stephanie and Çaca are doing, which you can read more about in their newsletter. Thank you to Neftali, Sirena, Ria, Cristina, Katherine, and other folks for nourishing us during this gathering, and to healers Geo and Andraly for facilitating self-care and relaxation. If you’re a Black, indigenous, or a person of color farmer, land steward, or earth worker, live in the northeast, and are interested in being part of the NEFOC network, apply here.

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! 
  • Read our 2018 Annual Report
  • Applications are open for BIPOC FIRE 2.0! Building off of the momentum of our weeklong BIPOC FIRE, these 2.0 workshops are “deep dives” into specific farming and homesteading practices. We have invited passionate and experienced facilitators to offer daylong workshops throughout the season. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.
  • We are looking for volunteer drivers for our BIPOC FIRE summer programs. Some participants travel far to attend our programs, and we need help getting folks to and from the farm and Albany, NY. Time slots for when we anticipate needing drivers for are listed here, and we will reach out to the people who sign up for slots at a later date to let them know the exact time they would be needed. 
  • 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.
  • Please join us for our Community Farm Days – monthly from April-October. We work the land and learn together followed by a potluck lunch and conversation. 
  • One of our beloved farmers was rear ended in an accident that totaled their car. Fortunately no one was injured, but it has left them without transportation and without enough money from the insurance company to purchase a new one. This situation is a setback given that we are currently in the height of the season and there is little time to search for a new car. They are looking for an affordable option to get through the rest of the season by buying or renting a car until late November for $1000. If you have any leads please email one of our farmers at damaris@soulfirefarm.org or lytisha@soulfirefarm.org. Please with patient with us if it takes us a while to respond – we also have limited capacity to respond swiftly. We feel incredibly blessed to have such a loving and supporting community to reach out, and are super grateful to everyone who has reached out to us so far! 
  • Check us out at the Yale Podcast Network, Literary Hub, Green America, Whetstone Magazine, PCC Community Markets, and One Meal a Day for the Planet
  • 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!
Photo of our hardening off tables by Aresh Javadi.

In the northeast goldenrod blooms signify the end of summer, the color of early morning sunlight captured in their bright yellow flowers. Noah recently noticed it blooming, contributing to our overall sense that summer is indeed already coming to a close. This summer has been a relatively cool one, filled with sporadic short but intense rain showers. The other night we were visited by a particularly intense thunderstorm with close lightning that lit up the landscape every few seconds in bright light, akin to using camera flash outside in the evening – it was terrifyingly beautiful. Other late summer treasures have been melon harvests, watching our corn tassle, and witnessing the amaranth we are growing for Seedshed trials that Damaris transplanted a couple week ago flourish. We have been in a mad dash to get fall brassicas into the ground as quickly as possible, and thanks to Larisa, Lytisha, and Dayo – previous BIPOC FIRE train-the-trainer who is working with us the next few weeks – we are making head way. 

BIPOC Builders Immersion.

Timber framing is a traditional carpentry method of joining large timbers using mortise and tenon joinery and wooden pegs that results in buildings that can last a long time and can be built from locally sourced materials – vitally important in an increasingly climate chaotic world. During our first BIPOC Builders Immersion of the season, we raised the timber frame for the soon-to-be chick brooder, woodshed, and tool storage. The precision required for timber framing is higher than in other types of framing because the timber frame is also the finished carpentry and won’t be covered up by any trim to hide inaccuracies, so we are especially amazed by the tenacity, patience, and hard work facilitators and participants displayed to construct this beautiful frame. It was beautiful witnessing Jonah in his element as teacher about an area of carpentry he has immense expertise in. 

BIPOC FIRE Session 3.

Something particularly notable our third session of BIPOC FIRE was the sense of closeness and comradery people had with each other, which was really precious to see. A couple of days into the week most of the participants could be found sitting in a circle near the pond in the late afternoon, sharing stories and songs, or shooting arrows with each other in the field. Everyday during lunch we had rich, participant-suggested discussions on topics like body liberation, community safety, polyamory, and astrology, and the level of vulnerability increased during chicken harvest and the spiritual bath. We are so grateful for the facilitators for crafting and holding this beautiful space, for Ria and Brooke for nourishing us during this, and every, program, and for the participants for showing up fully. 

Youth and facilitator Antonia at L.O.L. at WILDSEED.

Amani and Naima are currently at WILDSEED as two of several facilitators for L.O.L., or Liberation on Land, a rites of passage program for youth of color ages 13-16. They are only half-way through the week and there is already so much laughter and joy. The youth are engaging in healing arts, regenerative farming, cooking, survival skills, political education, art and music making, mindfulness practices, ancestor work, and learning the language of the Earth throughout the week. They are asking for community support to cover expenses for the program. Please contribute if able and share! Their GoFundMe link is here

Youth from Project Produce.

For Black, indigenous, and other people of color, the pain and trauma from genocide, enslavement, and loss of cultural identity and connection to ancestral land still lingers in our bodies, minds, and hearts from colonization. The Decolonizing Our Hearts, Minds & Movements at Omega in Rhinebeck, NY is a space for BIPOC to focus on mindful decolonization strategies intended to help undo the legacy of colonization in each of us and within our practice of activism. Leah joined Michael Yellow Bird, Sherri Mitchell, Sachem Hawkstorm, Neftali Duran, David Ragland and Stephanie Morningstar as a guest presenter. A significant amount of the work we do at Soul Fire Farm also focuses on encouraging BIPOC to reforge ancestral connection to the land which often manifests in our work with youth. Amani and Cheryl have worked with youth from the Troy Drug Free Community Coalition and Capital Roots’ Produce Project in the last month.

Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Threaten to Desecrate Mohican Burial Grounds on Papscanee Island – Take Action!

National Grid is seeking approval to construct and operate the E37 natural gas pipeline that would cut through Papscanee Island on the Mahicannituck (Hudson) River. Papscanee Island, named for a prominent Mohican chief, is a culturally significant part of the homelands of the Stockbridge Munsee-Mohican people. The island holds the bones of their ancestors, the artifacts of their villages, and the memory of their fertile maize mounds. Papscanee Island is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places because of its cultural significance to the Muh-he-con-neok (Mohican) “People of the Waters That Are Never Still.” 

It is of great importance that a pipeline not desecrate this sacred island. 

Please take action today. Contact Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary of NY Public Service Commission secretary@dps.ny.gov to urge the commission to block the pipeline. Reference “Case 19-T-0069” in your correspondence. 

For more information:

http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/AskPSC.nsf/All/75587FDFACE748F8852583C800553276?OpenDocument

Donations can be sent to:

Stockbridge Munsee Tribal Historic Preservation

65 1st St, 

Troy NY 12180

Attn: Bonney Hartley

“At Soul Fire Farm, we acknowledge and take very seriously the reality that we are growing on colonized land that none of our ancestors personally stewarded. We honor this tension by building relationships and standing in solidarity with the original friends of this land – the Mohican people, many of whom were forcibly displaced to the Stockbridge Munsee Mohican reservation in Wisconsin.” ~Damaris Miller

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 the Reparations Map for Black-Indigenous Farmers. 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!

DONATE TO SOUL FIRE

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