December 5, 2017

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A Conversation About Design and Health

On December 5, 2017, NYHealth hosted a conversation with Soul Fire Farm, a winner of NYHealth’s 10th Anniversary Emerging Innovator Awards.

Leah Penniman, founder of Soul Fire Farm, was joined by Ysanet BatistaJahshana Olivierre, and Ulum Flores, and Olivia Watkins, alumni of Soul Fire Farm’s Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion program.

Leah started the conversation with facts and figures about the U.S. food apartheid and the food system’s deep roots in structural racism and injustice. She discussed the founding of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, N.Y., and its work to distribute food weekly to 80 families living in food deserts. She also talked about Soul Fire Farm’s work in providing low- or no-cost training to farmers of color to build and improve their skills, with the overall goal of increasing the number of farmers of color in New York State and nationally.

The alumni of Soul Fire Farm’s Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion program shared their experiences in the food system before, during, and after being trained. They discussed the bridges and bonds that were developed during the training, as well as how the trainings have fueled them to cultivate family land, run food cooperatives of color, and create pop-up cooking classes.

See Leah’s slides here.

“Racism is built into the DNA of the United States’ food system. It began with the genocidal theft of land from First Nations people, and continued with the kidnapping of my ancestors from the shores of West Africa. Under the brutality of the whip and the devastation of broken families, enslaved Africans cultivated the tobacco and cotton that made America wealthy.”

– Leah Penniman

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