Soul Fire Farm

By Reconnecting With Soil, We Heal the Planet and Ourselves

By Leah Penniman, YES! magazine

Dijour Carter refused to get out of the van parked in the gravel driveway at Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. The other teens in his program emerged skeptical, but Dijour lingered in the van with his hood up, headphones on, eyes averted. There was no way he was going to get mud on his new Jordans and no way he would soil his hands with the dirty work of farming. I didn’t blame him. Almost without exception, when I ask Black visitors to the farm what they first think of when they see the soil, they respond “slavery” or “plantation.” Our families fled the red clays of Georgia for good reason—the memories of chattel slavery, sharecropping, convict leasing, and lynching were bound up with our relationship to the earth. For many of our ancestors, freedom from terror and separation from the soil were synonymous. While the adult mentors...

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