On Saturday, November 9th, Sr. Jeannie Humphries, O.S.U. drove Sr. May Sullivan, Sr. Jackie DaSilva and Sr. Alrie Giordano up to Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. Founded in 2011, this farm seeks to end racism in the food system and reclaim ancestral connections to the land. The Sisters were greeted warmly and were invited to join other volunteers in the barn, cleaning garlic that had been harvested.
When the lunch bell rang, all were gathered in the house to share a meal that had been brought by the participants. People had come from as far as California, Troy, NY and from New York.
As they all settled down in expectation of a pot luck feast all were invited to say one thing for which they were grateful and the whole group was asked to repeat what was said. The feast was plentiful and replete with wonderful aromas and tastes.
One of the co-founders, Jonah Penneman, led a short tour of the farm helping the visitors to see that the house that had been built by the community used local wood and ecologically sound methods in its construction. On the south side there were huge windows to catch the warmth of the sun, and the garden by this side was for medicinal plants.
The plants on the side of a slight hill were arranged to stop soil erosion and use the water flow efficiently. There was a huge garden containing a mix of plants, some were meant to attract pollinators and some to deter rodents. There were also a variety of various fruit and nut bearing trees.
Jonah spoke of the community’s relation to the Mohican Indians who had been removed from this land. They had offered to give the Mohicans a part of the land but what they wanted was to be able to use the land for Native American gatherings and ceremonies.
The community at Soul Fire Farm helps people of color learn ancestral methods of farming. They provide food to over 100 families in the Troy and Albany regions, delivering it each week. They also work to advocate for people of color with great sensitivity to gender respect.
Jonah’s wife, Leah, is the author of the book, “Farming While Black” and travels all over, speaking for the concerns of Soul Fire Farm. You can find her wonderful YouTube talks online.
After hearing about Soul Fire Farm’s efforts to lead the movement to make reparation for the suffering of so many people of color throughout our history Ursuline Sisters and Associates joined this endeavor by making personal contributions to support the efforts to restore health and opportunity to people of color in the Albany/Troy area.