Goddard to host talk on the Black farming community, food sovereignty

Educator, farmer, and food justice advocate Leah Penniman to lead conversation with students and the public

Leah Penniman
Leah Penniman

PLAINFIELD, Vt. — Educator, farmer and food justice advocate Leah Penniman will lead a conversation on the Black farming community and food sovereignty at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, in Goddard’s Haybarn Theatre, 123 Pitkin Road. The event, titled “Cultivating Freedom and Justice in the Food System: The Story of Soul Fire Farm and the Freedom Food Alliance” is free and open to the public.
Some of our country’s most cherished sustainable farming practices – from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA – have roots in African wisdom. Yet, African-American farmland ownership has declined to less than 1% and Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food. In her discussion with Goddard undergraduate students and the public, Penniman will share the story of land loss and food injustice, the work she and others are doing to reclaim ancestral rights to belong to the land and have agency in the food system,  and how some are using food and land as tools to end mass incarceration and institutional racism.
Penniman is co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She is committed to dismantling the oppressive structures that misguide our food system, reconnecting marginalized communities to land, and upholding our responsibility to steward the land that nourishes us. As a core member of the Freedom Food Alliance, Leah cultivates life-giving food for incarcerated people and their loved ones.
She also runs an on-farm restorative justice program that is an alternative-to-incarceration for area teens. In these spaces, Leah joyfully and reverently connects learners to the intricate miracle that is this living planet and to their own power as agents of positive change in the community. Her work as a farmer and educator has been recognized nationally by the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, YES! Magazine, the Teaching Channel, New Technology Network, College Board, National Science Teachers Association, Edutopia, Center for Whole Communities, and Rethinking Schools.
Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University.

About Goddard College

Goddard College is a liberal arts institution offering low-residency bachelor’s and master’s degrees from its campus in Plainfield, Vermont, and its educational sites in Port Townsend and Seattle, Washington. Constituted according to the ideals of democracy and principles of progressive education developed by John Dewey, Goddard’s curriculum is centered in the problems of choosing and deciding—students decide their areas of study, they determine which resources they will use, and they devise how they will measure what they learn. The College was founded in 1863 and moved to its Plainfield campus in 1938. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., through the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Visit goddard.edu.

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to www.goddard.edu

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