A Q&A with Farm Business Planning Co-Manager Alex Fouliard Alex Fouliard is MFT’s Farm Business…
Connect with fellow members and MFT staff as we dig into timely topics related to our food and farm systems. This winter and spring we’ll read two books: Dirt to Soil (March), and Farming While Black (April). You can join the discussion in person at MFT’s Fiore Art Center in Jefferson, or tune in to an online discussion from wherever you are!
Dirt to Soil, Gabe Brown
From Chelsea Green Publishing: “Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture.
In Dirt to Soil Gabe Brown tells the story of that amazing journey and offers a wealth of innovative solutions to our most pressing and complex contemporary agricultural challenge—restoring the soil.”
Farming While Black, Leah Penniman
From Chelsea Green Publishing: “In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described—from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land. Woven throughout the book is the story of Soul Fire Farm, a national leader in the food justice movement.”
*Want a deeper dive into the topic of how our food system intersects with racial equity? In April, join MFT in participating in Food Solutions New England’s 21-day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. The challenge is simple: we (along with thousands of others across the country) commit to deepening our understanding of and willingness to confront racism for 21 consecutive days. At the very least, the Challenge will raise our awareness. But for many participants, it goes beyond that and changes the way they see and interact with the world. Learn more about the challenge & sign up HERE.*