Soul Fire Farm manger and founding co-director Leah Penniman’s harvest is enough to provide food to over 50 families throughout the Capital Region weekly.

What You Need To Know

  • Soul Fire Farm's program reaches more than 10,000 people a year

  • The farm is situated on 70 acres of land in Rensselaer County

  • Farming classes are available online

“Our goal is to make sure that folks’ zip code or race is not a barrier to accessing fresh affordable food so every week they are getting a bag of vegetables, eggs, pasteurized meat, fruits, and fruit products,” Penniman said.

The farm and organization grew out of concern for people in the community who are facing what they call, “food apartheid.”

“You look at how much hunger there is in our society, how the land has been stolen from indigenous people and Black communities,“ she said.

She says discrimination against Black farmers and their rights to land and resources date back to the 1900s. According to the Center for American Progress, that is why less than 2 percent of farms in the United States are Black-owned.

Black farmers like Brooke Bridges are grateful to be a part of a movement that’s reviving urban farm operations.

“Growing something that’s life-giving and nourishing for the community, I didn’t think it was something I would ever be a part of,” Bridges said.

They have livestock, herbs, vegetables crops, and even bees. It all sits on more than 70 acres of land in Petersburgh in Rensselaer County. Before the pandemic, they also held on-the-ground workshops and large community volunteer farm days.

Cheryl Whilby also works at the farm. In addition to her administrative duties and farming, she also helps people get their hands dirty, learning to live off the land.

“It really means a lot, especially being able to teach BIPOC folks how to farm,” she said.

The organization built an online database of BIPOC, short for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, farmers which anyone can use to donate tools, funds or even land to support urban farm initiatives.

“We’re working with thousands of aspiring Black and brown growers who want to grow food for their families and communities,” Whilby said.

More information is available on their website.