Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
by Leah Penniman, 368 pages, 8x10, softcover. The author, who many years ago trialed for Fedco, writes from the experience of her Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York a book to encourage and empower Black farmers. This is a radical book by an activist committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. The opening quote from Malcolm X sets the premise: “Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, equality.” And the teachings that follow are both of the practicalities and the legacies of Black agricultural traditions. The chapter “Black Land Matters” is made concrete with the steps and resources to find land while also including methods to remediate lead contamination in soil. Crop planning focuses on diaspora plants, as do the recipes. And since saving seeds is essential to preserving culture, there’s an section on seed keeping. Interwoven with the techniques is a beautiful interplay of modern life as informed by tradition, spirit, story and community, as it plants the seeds of a new and liberating heritage. This book’s perspective has historically been excluded from U.S. agricultural chronicles. It addresses topics such as healing from trauma, movement building and restoring degraded land that speak to and of Black experience in ways that inform us all. -Nikos Kavanya
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