2019 Keynote Speaker
Leah Penniman is an educator, farmer/peyizan, 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 our ancestral connection to land. 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. 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. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land hit shelves in November, 2018. www.soulfirefarm.org
From Mackandal to Tubman - The Plants of Black Freedom (Keynote) African people’s relationship with plant medicine extends even before our first written account in 1500 BCE on the Ebers Papyrus, on which ancient Egyptians listed the recipes for over 850 herbal medicines. Our knowledge of plants traveled with us in the bowels of slave ships and was kept alive in the root and conjure work of the Black American South, In Mackandal's revolutionary poisons, in Harriet Tubman’s deft use of wild plants to keep her Underground Railroad passengers healthy, and in the natural pharmacies of orisa worshipers. Let's journey through time to discover the central role of plants in Black freedom.
Spiritual Healing Baths The use of spiritual herbal baths for healing, protection, and divine revelation is a cross-cutting African indigenous practice. In the Vodou tradition, the guardian of spiritual baths and all plant medicine is Gran Bwa (Great Forest). In this hands-on workshop, we will explore the gifts of Gran Bwa by making spiritual baths for our individual healing needs. Each person will leave with a customized sacred bath and instructions for use.