LOVE NOTES – Righting History’s Wrongs, Strawberry Jam, and Climate Change

Announcements

  1. You probably noticed that we separated out the Love Notes from the weekly Ujaama Farm Share newsletter. If you are eager to discover what we are harvesting each week on the farm, you can still see the newsletter on our website.

  2. We want to see you! Some upcoming events that are still open include the Beatshot Music Festival this weekend, partial proceeds to Soul Fire. Then we have our August community work day.  There are also a few spots left in Unity Table’s “Bearing Witness to Land, Food, and Race” at Soul Fire Farm.

  3. Check out our latest media shout outs, including  a cover story in The Alt, and an article in Country Woman Magazine.

  4. Finally, please support the Victory Bus Project in getting a new van so that incarcerated people and their loved ones can stay connected and get farm fresh food. Thank you!

 

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Why are these folks bubbling over with joy and laughter? It’s because we just weeded the apple orchard and made space for an herbal understory of bee balm, chives, chamomile, echinacea and dozens of other plant allies. But more than that, we are happy because we spent a whole week together learning how to be activist-farmers as part of Session 1 of Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion. We explored our learning edges in community too – the ways we need to grow toward gender justice and toward accountability. As one participant shared,  “[This was a] dynamic once-in-a-lifetime experience, that opened my eyes to a completely new way of engaging and navigating systemic social violence and oppression. It helped me to regain my voice, not be afraid to share, to cry, to live.”

 

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There are no words big enough to say how much we love and cherish the youth that visit this land for healing and learning. Recently, we welcomed Malcolm X Grassroots Movement New Afrikan Scouts, Schenectady High School Roots, and Youth FX. We are nerds, so we love our farming-cooking-revolution-leadership curriculum, but the real magic is, “I found a snake!” then “Oooooh, let me hold it!” and “Do you want to hear a creation story about the snake?” and “Yes, we want to hear.”

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An old-timer neighbor of ours stopped to chat and shared, “I’ve been here for 40 years and have never seen rain like this. They say climate change isn’t real, but you know, they might be wrong.” We have had deluges of rain this spring, which does not bring out the best in our heavy clay, poorly drained soils. We are talking more seriously about what climate resiliency looks like – as warmer winters fail to reduce pest populations and floods leach nutrients. Pictured here, we break up cementy clods by hand (too wet for tractor) and press bean seeds in one-by-one (too wet to furrow.) Luckily, plants are committed to life and even send their roots upwards to avoid drowning!

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“Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.” ~Wendell Berry  In the soils we workshop at the recent Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion, we explored soil texture, macro- and micro-nutrients, and amendments. Which, is a fancy way to say that we learned how to nurture the living substrate that feeds our people. Behind the scenes, we have been talking closely with some folks at the United States Department of Agriculture as well as private foundations about strategies for making sure these nascent farmer-activists-soil stewards get the land, credit, capital, and support they deserve. Let’s hope action follows words, but it is heartening to know there are individuals passionate about “righting history’s wrongs.”

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The SOULstice party is one those, “Is this really my life?” kind of days. Over 300 community members joining for our biggest celebration of life all year. Young ones rolled around on the newly built dance floor, pond lingerers enjoyed tacos or sushi or platano, the sun departed leaving a dusk rainbow… then a full lineup of local talent opened hearts – revolutionary, black, and earthy. Live drum dance circle by Jordan Hill and rhymes by Katani interspersed with DJ Truemaster’s beats, who outdid it again, keeping the dance floor lit until 4 AM when the rooster crowed. Campfire laughter as the sun rose, brunch on the grass, children building towers of scrap wood. Lingerers eating fish soup, breaking Ramadan fast, weeding kale, reflecting on the blessing it is to be here in this place, fully alive, tasting freedom. Thank you to all of the volunteers, friends, and family who made this weekend magical!

 

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What do the following things have in common? (1) reviving a family farm in VA (2) bringing teens to Ghana to study agriculture (3) starting gardens in Boston Public Schools (3) teaching food justice to engineering students (4) counseling children off of ADHD medication using diet (5) campaigning for healthier public school lunches? HINT: They are all examples of what graduates of Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion are doing to advance food sovereignty! We had our first ever BLFI Reunion bringing together 3 years of land-loving, committed visionaries. Pictured here, we cast our gratitude and intentions on these living waters.

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Emet is not-so-patiently waiting for the strawberry jam to be done so he can lick the pot. We had so much fun turning our fresh-picked Soul Fire strawberries into preserves for the families in the Ujaama farm share. Doing the extra for our people is our way of saying, “We love you! Thank you for being part of our extended family.”