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Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land

4.69  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Choice Reviews , Outstanding Academic Title

In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people--a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and peop
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company
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Liz
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not the target demographic for the book, but I wish it had been available to me 30 years ago. Besides addressing the relationship of Black and Latinx people to the land, it's also a very thorough introduction to small-scale farming for newcomers. It traces the author's path to success, a journey from urban gardener to owner of acres of marginal land in the country and operator of a successful CSA.
My son had the good fortune to be a student of Ms. Penniman's while in high school. She is a pe
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Sav
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of liberatory farming methods and is incredibly true to the "practical" in the title. I am a young Black farmer and this book is pretty much not going to leave my side probably for the rest of my life or until I memorize it. Whichever comes first. ...more
LaToya
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The publisher's note for Leah Penniman's must-read Farming While Black documents that, "In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer fro ...more
Kristine
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Farming While by Leah Penniman is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October.

A wealth of information from Soul Fire Farm on how to purchase, plan for the use of, honor, restore, and harvest farm land, keep animals, and resolve personal histories (i.e. slavery, sharecropping, racism). There is a huge amount of resources each step of the way, so no decision is made uninformed, such as how to create useful and enriched soil, cultivating cultural crops, curating tools and seeds, info on medi
...more
cat
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2021
THIS BOOK. Swooooooning with all kinds of admiration. Also, this is a straight up farming primer mixed with a historical schooling and a liberation primer PLUS so much more.
Ryan
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erika Lachelle
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easy and informative read. I read it a few months back so not fresh in my head any more. However, from what i recall this is what I liked about the book:

It was a call to action (get involved in agriculture at any level from growing your own, supporting those who do, politics, creating a community around it, something)

Community is a theme that runs throughout the book

black history summary was good

resources for black and brown farmers, herbalists, etc

spiritual component (earth as a living being, h
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NOLaBookish  aka  blue-collared mind
Beautifully written, inspiring, and yet real. Cooperative farming, which is vital for the future of saving productive land, is being revived by farmer-leaders of color and of marginalized communities who are setting their goals at the systemic level to build true food sovereignty even as they dig in the dirt to feed their families and neighbors nutritious, glorious food. This is a primer for organizers and growers at the same time, and marks a next step in the transfer of power happening in this ...more
Becca Krasky
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
100% recommend for anyone who is involved with agriculture. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the richness of African and Black farming wisdom & knowledge - and oh my goodness, this book is so full of practical sustainable farming advice. Definitely important for white folks to read - I appreciated the final chapter focused on white people uprooting racism. Thank you Leah and thank you Soul Fire Farm for this labor of love.
kayla o mahony
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i impatiently waited for this book because i missed preorder. but i distinctly remember the moment of finding it in the nmaahc in dc. one of fastest purchases i think i have ever made. i read it back when i was not yet a farmer but a gardener. since, leah and soul fire have come into a bit of fame certainly within the farming community but outside of it as well. (much because of the release and positive reception of this book). i highly recommend reading this book no matter your proximity to far ...more
Jenna
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not Black. I am not a farmer. This book is a literal textbook, the kind that you would be assigned to read chapters from in a high school or college class. (Sidenote: I hope this book is adopted by teachers all over the world.) Despite all of that, I read "Farming While Black" from cover to cover. (Well, I'm vegan, so I skipped the chapter on raising animals for food.) This is a treasure trove of information -- agricultural, cultural, and spiritual. Even though I'm only tangentially involve ...more
Lisa Feld
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a really extraordinary read. As Penniman points out, the legacy of racism in America means both that many black, latinx and indigenous folk live in urban food deserts or on land so despoiled no one else wants it, and that farmland is “the scene of the crime” where people of color were forced to do brutal labor for the profit of white landowners. For these reasons, significant work is required for people of color to claim land, restore it, and use it well, but the results for both the pe ...more
Melissa
Apr 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was not expecting the format of this book to be so much like a textbook, but I tried to rate it based on who their intended audience was (people who are serious about starting farming but haven't bought land or started planting yet). It contains a lot of information about buying land and overcoming barriers to beginning farming, such as acquiring capital and finding loans. It also has information about various crops (including medicinal herbs) and crop plans, although if you are farming I don' ...more
SM Zalokar
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mind blown. I am quite familiar with the tenants and practices of sustainable agriculture and social justice both in theory and in practice. That said, Ms. Penniman’s book is the first time I have thought about sustainable agriculture through the equity lens. I am ashamed to say it never crossed my mind that of all the wisdom I have gained in this regard, never have I acknowledged the shared knowledge and ancestral wisdom of generations of African Americans, Africans, the African diaspora, desce ...more
Liz Parissenti
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Everyone should read this, whether you care about farming or not. Leah Penniman gives a deeply personal yet incredibly practical account about her experience as a black woman farming in America, today, right now, with a lens toward how to create meaningful change where it matters most: in reuniting communities of color with the land that they have historically been denied ownership of, and access to. This book is an amazing guide to empowerment, enfranchisement, intentional community ...more
Molly
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this with my (all-white) permaculture group. Excellent resource for people of colour and others who are drawn to the land, or those who are repelled because farm work equals slavery. There's a lot of history (mostly American, some African), advice about farming/gardening and teaching young people about farming/gardening, business start-up and land-buying tips, herbal medicine info, seed-keeping techniques, Africa-based soul food cooking recipes, plus so much inspiration and many creative ...more
Ellie Jane
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leah does a fantastic job covering crucial history regarding organic farming and race- teaching the reader that most practices of the organic farm movement today were invented by people of color (but receive very little credit) to why less than 1% of farmers are black today. She also wrote helpful chapters on how to start one's own small scale farm. ...more
Erica
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WHAT AN INSPIRATION! This book will change the world, step by step.
I'm in awe of the blend of history, race theory, and hands-on practical farming advice (including where to search for help at federal and region levels). Loved every bit of it. Every new farmer (or aspirational farmer) should grab a copy.
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R.
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is certainly the most unique book on farming I’ve read. Very few manuals also have instructions for casting spells from a syncretic blend of African traditions, Jewish prayers, etc. For being useful for my own purposes I’d probably lean closer to three stars but just for the sake of staking our such novel territory it deserves the fourth star.
Elissa
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Transformative -- Leah Penniman, in an act of mutual aid, provides this guide to aspiring Black farmers in such detail, along with practical advice for organizing and uplifting. Even though I just finished this book a couple hours ago, I can already tell this is one of those works that will have a lasting impact on me (especially in the field of food justice).
DearBookClub
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide To Liberation On The Land," educates African American and
LatinX farmers on growing techniques and
management practices from the African Diaspora, so they can play a part in addressing food access, health disparities, and other social issues.
...more
Ang
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Incredible Read

I picked up the book to learn about new strategies for gardening. I ended up learning history, culture, recipes, and a how the land can be used as a program to reach youth. I’ll also be able to make even better use of the food that comes from my garden.
Annie
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An eye opening book that reveals deep rooted racism in our food system. It's also a must read for anyone thinking of starting their own farming business. Leah Penniman tells the story of how she started Soul Fire Farm- a BIPOC centered farm committed to ending racism and food injustice ...more
Kate Neely
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Anyone interested in food justice, food gardening/farming, and racial justice in the US should read this book. There is so much practical and historical information presented with so much love and passion, I think this book and Leah's message will stick with me for the rest of my life. ...more
Gregorio Pedroza
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I ordered a physical copy before I finished the e-book version that I checked out. This beautiful book merits multiple reads, booksmarks, highlighting, and points to jump off to continue your education.
Melissa
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I could never do justice to this book and the breath and depth of its impact on me. It’s about how to farm and how to “life”. It’s an all encompassing blanket of how do and who to. It’s wonderful and motivating. Enlightening and grounding.
Anna Livingston
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading not just for people of color considering farming, but for anyone who cares about sustainable farming practices, food and economic justice, and the value farm-raised food provides in nurturing body and soul.
Sølvi Goard
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is just really good. A social movement history of black farming interwoven (intercropped) with the practicals of growing.
Mike Finn
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This left me both sad and hopeful. Sad that the gulf is so wide, hopeful that Ms Penniman had the leadership to get a conversation going.
Sarah Coupal
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Provides useful and interesting information, regardless of the reader's racial or occupational identity. ...more
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