Farming While Black – Book Review

This is book 10 of my personal Top 10 Farm Books Of The Decade.

I’ve been presenting my Top 10 in order of publication.

Farming While Black

Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land

by Leah Penniman

Leah Penniman has written a complete farming manual that covers all steps from soil prep to harvest (including my favourite topics of farming collectively, crop planning and keeping seeds.)

This book is also a memoir of how Leah and her co-farmers started Soul Fire Farm, got the farm up and running, and how it operates today.

On these aspects alone, I would recommend this book.

But this book is about more than that. As the title clearly states, this book is about Farming While Black.

As a white man, I recognize that I see myself represented in the majority of farm books that I read and conferences I attend. I have limited understanding of the challenges and opportunities that farmers experience who do not benefit from white privilege. I am grateful for this book that so generously invites me to broaden my perspective.

I can only imagine what a breath of fresh air this book is for those farmers who don’t see themselves reflected in major farming conferences and resources.

Leah Penniman also traces the African-indigenous roots of “organic farming”. Most of these roots were new to me. We should honour these roots if we want to make sure that market farming persists past this current revival.

One more aside. After Farming While Black mentioned George Washington Carver a few times, I went and read a George Washington Carver biography to go beyond the little I knew about the man. Now, he just might be my favourite rock star farmer of all time. (I use the term rock star farmer a bit tongue in cheek but I mean it with respect. That man was amazing!)

This is an ambitious book but Leah Penniman really pulls it off!


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