Debra Prinzing

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Episode 385: A Conversation with Soul Fire Farm’s Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black, Plus State Spotlight: Alaska

January 23rd, 2019

Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm and author of “Farming While Black.”

Please meet this week’s podcast guest: Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm. I am so incredibly excited to share our conversation with you as we discuss Leah’s brand new book, “Farming While Black, Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,” published last October by Chelsea Green Publishing.

Soul Fire Farm – a life-giving hub for education, advocacy and activism

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer, author, 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 an ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, 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.

Soul Fire Farm’s Leah Penniman and her family

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.

The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. All proceeds from the sale of Farming While Black will be used to support Black Farmers.

Pollinator flowers at Soul Fire Farm

Soul Fire Farm is a Black, indigenous, and people of colorcentered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system.

Soul Fire Farm raises and distributes life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of ancestors, the farm works to reclaim its collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system.

Soul Fire brings diverse communities together on its healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. Leah and her colleagues are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.

I believe that Farming While Black is required reading for all farmers, and for anyone who wants to have a deeper insight into the often-ignored agricultural history of our country.

I highly recommend it — Leah’s passion and spirit jumps off the page as she inspires, informs, instigates and shares her important life’s work as well as her incredibly smart farming advice.

Here’s how you can find and follow Leah Penniman, of Soul Fire Farm:

Soul Fire Farm on Facebook

Soul Fire Farm on Instagram

Here’s more about Farming While Black. And Leah’s Book Tour Schedule — I hope you can hear Leah speak and meet her in a city near you!

Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies


Kim Herning (left) at Northern Lights Peony Farm

Our theme for 2019 – Fifty States of Slow Flowers – continues today, with Alaska!!

And now, let’s meet Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies — who shares an Alaska floral spotlight.

You’ll want to hear from Kim about her journey toward peonies in her life. She is also on the board of Arctic Alaska Peonies, a past sponsor of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

Left: Our Alaska Forget-me-Not coloring sheet from American Flowers Week; Right: Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies.

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey, seeking new and inspiring voices, people with passion, heart, commitment and expertise to share with you. I hope today’s episode gave you at least one inspiring insight or tip to apply to your floral enterprise. What you gain will be multiplied as you pay it forward  and help someone else.

We have a vital and vibrant community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious.

I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

The Slow Flowers Summit is six months away so please save three dates on your calendar as you plan your travel to St. Paul Minnesota: First, our bonus flower farm tours and Slow Flowers Dinner on the Farm, taking place on Sunday, June 30th; then, Monday, July 1st, where we will all gather at Paikka Event Space for day one of the Summit, followed by Tuesday, July 2nd where we will tour the Twin Cities Flower Exchange as it’s swimming in locally grown flowers.

I can’t wait to see you there! Ticket sales continue with a special Slow Flowers member discount at $375, so please make your way to to learn all about the many opportunities to join us — from flower farm tours and dinner on a flower farm to business and branding presentations to interactive and inspiring design sessions . . . all designed to serve you! Sign up to receive updates at

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 399,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. Thank you all!

And thank you to our lead sponsor, Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Our first Sponsor Spotlight focuses on Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at and if you missed our recent interview with Johnny’s flower category expert, Hillary Alger, I’ll add a link in today’s show notes so you can find it easily.

Our Second Sponsor Spotlight today goes to Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Spring bulb season is almost here – my tulips are poking out of the ground already! Visit Longfield Gardens at

Our final Sponsor thanks today Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at

Music Credits:

A Palace of Cedar; Rabbit Hole; Gaena; Perspiration
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field
Music from:

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