People gardening at Soul Fire Farm
Gardening at Soul Fire Farm.

At Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York, Leah Penniman is working to create a food system that’s better for the climate and communities of color.

Penniman: “If you look at every step in the food system from producer to consumer, there’s unfair distribution of resources.”

She says few people of color own their own farms … yet they make up the bulk of the agricultural workforce. And in cities, minority communities often lack access to affordable, fresh produce.

So Soul Fire Farm helps urban dwellers start growing vegetables on city lots. This gives them access to healthy food without trucking it long distances.

Penniman: “The more we can grow food close to home – extremely close to home, like within 10 or 100 feet – the less impact we’re going to have on the climate.”

Penniman also trains and mentors people of color who want to start farming commercially. She teaches them how to grow food with less land, water, and chemicals. And through a website, she helps the public find and support those farmers who need land, equipment, or expertise.

Penniman: “One of our elders, Fannie Lou Hamer, said if you have 400 quarts of greens and gumbo soup canned for the winter, no one can push you around or tell you what to do. So we really believe that growing our own food is part of our survival and part of our freedom.”

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