Bold & Bright: Nourishing Communities and Improving the Food System 

March 5th, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

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Driven by a passion for social justice and land, Leah Penniman wears many hats. A farmer, mother, and champion of food equity, she co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 to dismantle racism in the food system and reconnect people to their ancestral roots.

Leah leads programs empowering Black and Brown farmers, provides affordable food access to marginalized communities, and advocates for systemic change on a global scale. Through Soul Fire Farm, Leah’s work nourishes bodies and fosters hope for a more just and equitable food future. Learn more about her journey of empowerment from the land and collective action.


Seeds of Inspiration

Penniman’s journey into farming justice was sparked by her upbringing and experiences with racial and environmental injustices. Raised in rural Massachusetts, Leah witnessed firsthand the disparities in access to healthy food and land ownership faced by communities of color. As a teenager, she volunteered with The Food Project, experiencing the transformative power of urban agriculture. Later, living in a food desert, she witnessed the stark realities of food insecurity in her community. Determined to address these systemic inequities, she embarked on a path of social and environmental activism.


A Mission with Soul

Soul Fire Farm is more than just a farm—it’s a movement. Located on 72 acres in Grafton, New York, the farm is a hub for cultural preservation and grassroots organizing. Through hands-on workshops, training programs, and educational initiatives, Leah and her team empower marginalized communities to reconnect with the land and achieve food sovereignty.


Sustainable Solutions

At Soul Fire Farm, Penniman advocates for regenerative farming practices rooted in ecological stewardship and social equity principles. Through agroecological methods such as crop rotation, polyculture, and composting, she nurtures healthy soils and restores biodiversity. Penniman also prioritizes the needs of marginalized farmers, providing access to land, resources, and technical assistance to communities historically excluded from agricultural opportunities.


Beyond the Farm

Beyond Soul Fire Farm, Penniman is making an impact by providing informational resources. Her award-winning book, “Farming While Black,” is a love letter to Black farmers and a guide for those seeking to reclaim their place in the food system. Through workshops, lectures, and online courses, she shares her knowledge and inspires others to build more resilient food systems.


Initiatives for Empowerment

Through her food justice work, Penniman seeks to dismantle the systems that have created food insecurity. Her two initiatives, Soul Fire in the City and Solidarity Shares, focus on dismantling barriers and providing resources. 

Solidarity Shares makes fresh, healthy food accessible to communities struggling with food deserts. Food shares are offered at a subsidized rate, ensuring affordability for those who need it most.

Soul Fire in the City empowers communities to grow their own food and build resilience. Soul Fire Farm provides training, resources, and support to establish and maintain community gardens.


A Beacon of Hope, a Brighter Future

Today, Penniman continues to break down barriers, advocate for change, and nurture a more just and sustainable food system. Her story is a powerful reminder that one person can make a difference. Through her work at Soul Fire Farm, she’s not just growing food; she’s cultivating hope, building bridges, and paving the way for a more equitable and sustainable food system for all. 

Anyone can make a difference, and every action matters—find ways to brighten the world.

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Iyon Baker

Iyon is a curious, creative NC native and Chapel Hill alum who is always eager to embark on new adventures that provide more skills. With a background in advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and fine arts, she uses her skills for copywriting and brand storytelling. Her professional journey has led her to diverse projects that taught her to embrace challenges and adapt to any situation. In her leisure time, Iyon enjoys gardening, knitting, and traveling.

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