Newsletter #13 – September 10, 2014

Dearest Soul Fire Farm Community,

Such a blessing it has been to work so intimately with Mama Earth over the past years, and share the profound power of her wisdom and healing with countless people through our work here at Soul Fire.  It is her medicine for our world that we merely hold a container for.  Our ancestors’ tradition offers us the wisdom to allow the land to rest and replenish, and let ourselves do the same.  We have made an important decision to honor SHIMITA, the Jewish agricultural Sabbath that occurs every 7th year.  2015 will mark the 7th year of cultivating our east field, and we will observe a pause in commercial CSA production to focus on important infrastructure and organizational development – as well as to develop networks of farmer solidarity during our 5 months of living in Mexico and Haiti to create a globally rooted sustainable food curriculum.

We are asking ourselves:

“How can we use the gift of Sabbatical, offered by our ancestors, to ensure that this farm nourishes the community indefinitely without depleting our own heart reserves?  How can we infuse all of our work at Soul Fire with the passion, creativity, love and spirit we know it deserves, until this world is healed?

We ask of you:

Can you be a partner with us on innovative leadership in farm-based food sovereignty?

We have accomplished so much in just a few years. We built a straw bale, timber framed, passive solar home plus a barn, cooler, animal housing, and irrigation system. We have hosted close to 500 youth for our farm and food justice programming. We have trained almost 30 farm apprentices, several of whom have gone on to manage justice-oriented farming programs around the country. Our farming practices have demonstrated the transformation of rocky, shallow, marginal clay soils into highly productive, micro-nutrient rich, high organic matter black gold that is producing impressive amounts of food and nutrients per square foot for our communities. We have fed ~150 families a weekly bounty of fresh food, plus provided food for the hundred of attendees of our programming. We established the Black and Latino Farmers Immersion that has an impressive waitlist and national media coverage. We co-created a collaboration with farmers in Komye, Haiti to restore degraded lands after the devastating 2010 earthquake. We collaborated with other local organizations to create the Albany Food Justice Coalition, hosting community meals and conversational platforms on food justice topics. We have presented at conferences across the country, taught in prison, and advanced the food justice conversation.  And we have done this work from the heart, infused with love.

We are in the farming and food justice movements for the long haul and we want to do it right. We learned this year that there is an incredibly high demand for Soul Fire Farm programming with waitlists for all we offer, and it is not slowing down!  We are striving to make this operation financially and logistically sustainable, while also spiritually and emotionally nourishing those who work here so they can continue to infuse all of our work with the powerful spirit and love.  We need you to join us this year as we build a solid foundation from which to move forward.

Consider the following 2015 Sabbatical Goals and how you may engage:

  • We are creating a 501(c)3 nonprofit for our educational programming related to restorative justice, Black and Latino Farmers Immersion, youth empowerment, and social justice activist training. Do you have nonprofit management skills to offer?

  • We are launching a multi-stage capital campaign and crowdsource fundraiser, beginning this fall, to enable us to build new infrastructure, including housing for program attendees, crop storage and processing, and shop space. Additionally we are creating a “living wage fund” to help us compensate our farmers fairly. Do you have fundraising skills and connections to offer? Do you have building skills and time to lend a hand?

  • We will maintain a large demonstration homestead garden, perennial polyculture, and continue to produce some vegetables for retail, as well as pastured meat production. These farm operations will serve as the learning lab for our ongoing programming – Black and Latino Farmers Immersion, youth programming, and activist trainings during 2015 season. We will also continue to build soils and expand our cultivated areas with extensive cover cropping. Can you come to our monthly volunteer days and help on the land? Can you support our programming with in kind or financial donations?

  • We will spend January-May in Mexico and Haiti as part of a Fullbright scholarship, researching sustainable farming methods and advancing international cooperation in the food sovereignty movement. Can you help us find a house-sitter to keep the fires going and care for Rowe while we are away? Can you help us make connections to publish articles and give talks on this research?

Perhaps the central objective of the year will be to grow as individuals into the best people we can be and grow as a farm into our full potential. We want Soul Fire Farm to be an example of economic justice, both in terms of pay offered for work and in terms of developing the best model for getting food to vulnerable populations. There is no roadmap for this and we can’t do it alone.
Can you be a thought partner with us on cutting edge leadership in farm-based food sovereignty? Do you know experienced farmers seeking land with similar work ethic and vision who might want to join us at Soul Fire Farm?

Abundant blessings to you
Jonah, Leah, Neshima & Emet

Contents of Share 

  • bell peppers (1-2 fruits)
  • fennel (1 head) – great for roasting in oil and salt with other veggies
  • brussel sprouts (1.5 pounds) or celery (1-2 heads)
  • celery or napa cabbage (1-2 heads)
  • slicing cucumbers or japanese cucumbers (2 fruits)
  • tomatoes (8 red, 4 yellow)
  • cherry tomatoes and tomatillos and cayenne pepper (1 bag)
  • garlic (1 bulb)
  • carrots (1 bunch)
  • zucchini (2-3 fruits)
  • summer squash (1 fruit)
  • dino kale (1 bunch)
  • edamame (.5 pound) – Steam for 2-3 minutes, or until pods turn light green.  Salt and pop the seeds out of the pods.  Do not eat the pods.  These are great, served as an appetizer in their pods, or on top of a salad.
  • dill (1 bunch)



  • COMMUNITY WORKDAY/SKILLSHARES.  THIS SATURDAY September 13 – transplanting strawberries, orchard and field prep for fall and winter, firewood, stone wall building.  October 25 – garlic planting, more firewood, prepping high tunnel for spring planting.
  • If you pickup your share at the farm, the walk-in cooler has moved.  It is located on the far side fo the house in the clearing in the woods.  You can park by the solar panels and walk across the front lawn.  If you are not able to carry your share, please drive all the way around on the small road to the cooler.
  • Please RETURN YOUR BOXES.  You can leave them where you get your delivery. If you break them down, please make sure not to tear or bend any of the tabs, or just leave the assembled box for us and we are happy to break it down.
  • WASHING YOUR VEGGIES.  We do not extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer.  It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them.  For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times.  Dirt will rinse to the bottom.  Bugs should float to the top.
  • If you are a shareholder, you have the option of volunteering 5 hours over the course of the season in exchange for an additional week of food in the fall.  Be in touch to schedule your work with us, or come to a workday.
  • All of our newsletters are archived on our website, along with lots more, including educational resources and more recipes.  Thanks!