How Farming Has Allowed Her To Support 10,000 People

black woman farming
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
December 20, 2021

Leah Penniman was outraged that white supremacy was strategically limiting her community from accessing affordable and nutritious food. Determined to feed her community, Penniman reached back to the ancestors for guidance.

And they told her to return to the soil…

Often, farming is associated with labor forced upon the enslaved. Understanding this, Penniman’s dream was to remind folks that Black farming existed before enslavement, and our ancestors brought these practices with them through the Middle Passage.

Our people’s skills are why the United States even survived its early years at all!

Penniman’s dream grew into Soul Fire Farm, an 80-acre community that uses ancestral farming practices to grow produce – and share it with local families who face systemic food insecurity. 

Their programs reach thousands every year – like their restorative justice program, which works with troubled youth as an alternative to incarceration.

Penniman believes that Black farming is the future, and when we embrace farming as ancestral wisdom, it becomes a communal care practice that provides us with long-term survival skills.

Her work is an example of a Black community looking back on ancestral teachings to find a way forward – a strategy that can be applied to many of the daily issues we navigate as a people. We must remember that our ancestors' wisdom predates enslavement, and their teachings are key in our fight for liberation!

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