“Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.”—Malcolm X
“Farming While Black teaches us the fundamental acts of growing food and growing community.”—Karen Washington, from the foreword
Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Further, Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy natural ecosystems. Soul Fire Farm, cofounded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Through innovative programs such as the Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion, a sliding-scale farmshare CSA, and Youth Food Justice leadership training, Penniman is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid.
And now, with Farming While Black, Penniman extends that work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim their rightful place of dignified agency in the food system. This one-of-a-kind guide provides readers with a concise “how-to” for all aspects of small-scale farming, including:
- Finding Land and Resources
- Writing a Farm Business Plan
- Honoring the Spirits of the Land with Planting and Harvesting Rituals
- Restoring Degraded Land through No-Till and Biological Tillage
- Crop Planning for Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
- Preserving the Harvest and Saving Seed
- Raising Animals Sustainably and Humanely
- Urban Farming, including a guide to laws and land access
- Movement Building through education, direct action, & policy change
Throughout, Penniman includes “Uplift” sidebars to elevate the wisdom of the African Diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described, as well as an honest and transparent look at the real work being done at Soul Fire Farm every day.
“Stewarding our own land, growing our own food, educating our own youth, participating in our own healthcare and justice systems,” Penniman writes, “this is the source of real power and dignity.”
Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land