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A Discussion of African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice

Recently the Cornell Small Farms Program welcomed Leah Penniman to campus to lead a seminar describing her work, as well as her newly published book, “Farming While Black.”

Farmer, educator, food justice activist, and now writer, Leah does it all. Well known in the NY farming community, as the co-founding of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY, Leah has been an asset to this area for nearly 10 years.

Established in 2011, Soul Fire Farm has a powerful mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim ancestral connection to the earth. Soul Fire Farm has acted as a hub for learning with programs like farm training for Black and Latinx people, sliding cost CSA, and youth food justice leadership. Soul Fire Farm works in collaboration with a large scale movement to take back Afro-Indigenous land stewardship knowledge and promote equality within the food system.

“Farming While Black, extends that work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim our rightful place of dignified agency in the food system,” Leah said of her new book.

Leah talked about her book and the intersectionality between race and food issues. Following her lecture, there was a panel discussion addressing questions about racial inequality in the food system as well as more general food justice topics. The panel is composed of Cornell Small Farms Program director Anu Rangarajan, Development Sociology Professor Scott Peters, Natural Resources Professor Shorna Allred, and local farmer and advocate Raphael Aponte.

This seminar was jointly sponsored by the Cornell Small Farms ProgramMinorities in Agriculture Natural Resources, and Related ScienceSchool of Integrative Plant ScienceCenter for Conservation Social Sciences, and Cornell Community Food Systems Minor.

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