Funding a Racially Just Food System, 5/16

Wednesday May 16

12 – 2pm

North Star Fund
520 8th Ave, suite 1800

Register Here by 5/14

Lunch provided by Woke Foods

[UPDATE: You can now watch a recording of this briefing online]

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 skilled farmers 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.

But the story doesn’t end with the Emancipation Proclamation. Later came convict leasing, a form of legalized slavery that kept many Southern black people on plantations—in some places until the late 1920s. Just a few decades later, Congress created the migrant guest-worker program, which imported agriculturalists from Mexico and other countries to labor in the fields for low wages.

All of this history combines to produce the racism we witness today in the food system. Farm management is among the whitest professions, while farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited. Meanwhile, people of color tend to suffer from diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, and to live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods—high-poverty areas flooded with fast food and corner stores, but lacking healthy food options.

Our food system needs a redesign if it’s to feed us without perpetuating racism and oppression. How can the funding community best leverage its resources and influence to end racism in the food system?

Join us on May 16th when Leah Penniman, Co-Director of Soul Fire Farm, and Amani Olugbala, Assistant Director of Programs, will lead us in a data-rich, heart-centered, and hopeful conversation where we will generate concrete next steps toward our collective vision of a just and sustainable food system. Together we will explore how to make our organizational structures and grantmaking procedures more equitable and accountable to communities of color. Everyone will leave with a tangible and feasible action plan.

A delicious vegetarian lunch will be prepared by Woke Foods, a women of color catering cooperative .

Co-sponsored by Philanthropy New York and
the Committee for Equitable and Inclusive Philanthropy

Soul Fire Farm was the inaugural winner of the Community Food Funders Champion Award in 2017. One of the perks of the award is to host a funder briefing with CFF on content of the awardee’s choosing. This event is the CFF Champion funder briefing for this year.

More About The Presenters

Soul Fire Farm is a people-of-color led community farm dedicated to ending racism and injustice in the food system. Founded in 2011 by a family experiencing the dual challenges of living in a neighborhood under food apartheid and working to make a living from farming, Soul Fire Farm has grown to become a regional and national leader in the movements for food and land sovereignty. We steward a 72-acre parcel of mountainside land in Grafton, NY using African-Indigenous ancestral farming practices. We produce life-giving food and deliver it to the doorsteps of families in need across the Capital District at affordable and sliding scale prices. Soul Fire offers farmer-activist training programs for hundreds of predominantly Black and Latinx learners each year, and provide follow-up mentorship and resources to support graduates in their farming and food justice careers. In additional to these land-based programs, Soul Fire Farm is active on the regional, national, and international arena, catalyzing policy platforms, coordinating a reparations database, working on the formation of a farmers-of-color land trust, and offering momentum-building lectures and workshops for audiences across the country.

Leah Penniman is an educator, farmer, writer, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer trainings for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University. She has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. In addition to the Community Food Funders Champion Award, the work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others.

Amani Olugbala is a storyteller and food justice advocate with over 15 years of experience in youth education and community outreach. Amani combines artistic expression, project-based learning and outdoor education tools to facilitate social justice based workshops and discussions with individuals, groups and organizations. Amani seeks to push communities to challenge presumed differences and work together in uncovering paths towards self determination. Amani is the Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm and a 2015 alum of the farm’s Black and Latinx Farmer Immersion. The majority of Amani’s growing experience comes from time spent at Soul Fire or at youth centered garden projects in New York’s Capital District. Amani’s work with the Natural Leaders and Youth Ed Venture Network underscored the necessity of reintroduction to land as a source of healing and power for those of us historically and systematically disconnected. Raptivist, spoken word artist, and abolitionist, Amani is driven to uplift love, art & service as necessary expressions of rebellion against a sense of disconnection and hopelessness that threatens our collective peace and wellness.


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