Farming While Black is a genuinely beautiful read, providing a critical guide for self-determination and community sustainability presented in a most accessible, tangible, thoughtful, and clear way; providing for our people the tools to use land as a means to meet the needs of our families, friends, and communities; and moving us a step closer toward our over all goal of creating a ‘just’ economy rooted in true democracy and shared resources where all of us, not some of us, have what we need to thrive.
— Rukia Lumumba, founder and executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute
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“Soul Fire Farm is not just a farm; it is a place of refuge. It is where intergenerational, queer, and trans Black and Brown people go to be nourished in their mind, body, and soul. My family and I are blessed to be part of this community. So, wherever you are, after you read Farming While Black, make a trip to Grafton, New York, and visit this liberated land.”

—Rosa Clemente, journalist and scholar-activist; 2008 Green Party vice-presidential candidate

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“Nothing is more important than the increasingly visible and energetic role of Black people in moving toward creating and building a food system that actually works for people—one that provides nourishing food and provides a fair standard of living for workers while stewarding the land. Farming While Black is a brilliant guide to moving in that direction, regardless of your skin color.”

— Mark Bittman

Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of post-colonial Ghana, once said, ‘Practice without thought is blind; thought without practice is empty.’ If we are serious about creating justice and equity, our practice informs our theory and our theory gives meaning to our work. Leah Penniman’s Farming While Black is rooted in Leah’s real experience at Soul Fire Farm, which she cofounded. The book effortlessly weaves together theoretical strands on land and food justice, gender, racism, and movement building with best practices on soil health, crop planning, seed keeping, and a variety of other topics.

Farming While Black makes an important contribution to the growing body of literature on Black farming and foodways. The book affirms our sacred relationship to the Earth and calls for us to move beyond the extractive mindset that guides conventional agriculture and, all too often, organic agriculture as well. This unique how-to guide reflects Leah’s clear analysis of the impacts of ‘the system of white supremacy’ and colonialism on the food system and calls for us to reclaim our ‘real power and dignity’ through creating systems that serve our needs and are rooted in justice, equity, and spirituality. In her usual generous way, Leah also highlights others doing this critical work including Karen Washington, chef Njathi Kabui, and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance.

Small farms that grow food using sustainable, regenerative practices and foster an understanding of our sacred relationship to the Earth are necessary if humanity is to survive. Farming While Black provides ideas and best practices to move us in that direction. It should be read by both new and experienced rural and urban farmers, and by all wanting to participate in creating a just, equitable, earth-friendly food system.
— Malik Yakini, executive director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
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“Equal parts practical farm instruction and spiritual reflection on mind, body, spirit, and land, Farming While Black honors Black folks’ connections to land and agriculture while recognizing structural constraints that have ruptured those connections. Farming While Black is an important text that (re)centers Blackness and Black people in a conversation about being growers and responsible stewards of land.”

—Ashanté Reese, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology; codirector of the Food Studies Program, Spelman Colle


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Farming While Black is a rich and culturally relevant how-to manual for Black and Brown farmers. Filled with uplifting stories of Black contributions to agriculture and the ongoing work at Soul Fire Farm to build an anti-racist and just food system, this is the most inspiring book I have read in years.”

—Ira Wallace, owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast

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“Indeed, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land lives up to its full title, but author/farmer/activist/healer Leah Penniman’s book does much more than that. Planting deep in ancient agrarian wisdom and cultivating fearlessly with love and compassion, Farming While Black offers up a bounty of hope and inspiration, not just for farmers of color—but for all of us. A practical and visionary book that challenges us to change how we farm, how we live, and how we treat each other.”

—Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

Leah Penniman’s Farming While Black is a remarkably thorough—and beautiful!—handbook for successful farming, with step-by-step instructions on how to acquire land, how to restore land, how to keep seed, and so on. If this book were only that, it would be one of the best on the subject. But this book is not only that. Farming While Black shows us how we might repair our relationships with the land, which, given as we are the land, means repairing our relationships to ourselves. And each other. In other words, this book, born of the brilliant work and study that is Soul Fire Farm, is a handbook for repairing our souls. It can feel difficult to believe in the possibility of such repair, but this book gives me faith.
— Ross Gay, poet; author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
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Farming While Black is freedom.

A true gift from our ancestors, reminding us that they are always our teachers and inspiring us with the work being carried forward today. This book is a long awaited toolbox for Black farmers by Black farmers, rooting us to the land and empowering us to grow in our own skin.”

—Natasha Bowens, farmer; author of The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience, and Farming

The racial dynamics of Ms. Penniman’s ancestral history gives a unique perspective on her present life’s journey and commitment to food justice. As a reader, pulling back the pages of Farming While Black is like pulling back the layers of Ms. Penniman’s thought process, which eloquently transpires while she interweaves the perplexing history of Black agriculture. As an agricultural attorney and founder of Family Agriculture Resource Management Services, I find Ms. Penniman’s convictions regarding advocacy resonate personally with my own work. From the basic definition of soil testing to the technicalities of lending, Ms. Penniman’s book thoroughly defines what Farming While Black truly means.
— Jillian Hishaw, Esq., founder of Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.)