Leah Penniman
Leah Penniman

During Superstorm Sandy, rain drenched Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York. But the farm’s crop losses were minimal.

Penniman: “It was because we were using an Afro-Indigenous technology of permanent raised beds, so the water was channelized, it was diverted, it was slowed down.”

Farmer Leah Penniman says many climate-friendly farming methods were originally developed by people of color.

Penniman: “For example, many of us are familiar with vermicomposting or composting with worms, and that has roots in ancient Egypt under the reign of Cleopatra. Cover crops, you know, we can thank George Washington Carver for that.”

As extreme weather becomes more common and these techniques gain attention, Penniman wants to make sure their origins are remembered and honored. And she wants to help people of color reclaim this farming legacy.

Soul Fire Farm workers
Workers at Soul Fire Farm.

At Soul Fire Farm, she offers workshops on growing food sustainably. And in her book, Farming While Black, she gives practical advice for people of color interested in starting a farm.

She says supporting aspiring farmers of color is one step toward creating a more just food system – and one that’s better prepared for climate change.

Penniman: “We’re very, very proud and excited to be helping raise up the next generation of climate conscious farmers.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Images credit: Soul Fire Farm video.