Leah Penniman: Farming While Black [Ep. 137]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

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Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs - including farmer trainings for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and regional organizing toward equity in the food system. Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. Leah has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2018) is a love song for the land and her people. Follow her @soulfirefarm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Some highlights from Andrew Baskin’s conversation with Leah Penniman include:

  • Stories of unquantifiably valuable moments of healing of intergenerational trauma through relationship with land for people of color

  • How Leah’s new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, overcomes cultural erasure by providing a rare resource for Black/POC food & farming practitioners to learn about, celebrate, and reclaim their ancestral legacy of being in deep relationship with land

  • Leah shares details on the chapter in the book, “White People Uprooting Racism," for whose interest in antiracist work as white allies

  • Soul Fire Farm’s relationship with intentional community Wildseed and a POC/Indigenous-led land trust is reclaiming spaces in alignment with shared values


Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Dr. Monica White

The Color of Food by Natasha Bowens

Collective Courage A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

The Movable School Goes to the Negro farmer by Thomas Monroe Campbell

Ed Whitfield: Racial Justice Meets Non-Extractive Financing [Ep. 78]

Being Human by Climbing Poetree

I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself) by James Brown

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.


Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.