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Panel Discussion — BIPOC Leaders Share Food Sovereignty Strategies

People of Color have been marginalized in regards to the production and consumption of, and access to, healthy foods and as a result have far higher rates of food insecurity and of negative health impacts that result from poor nutrition. Three community leaders discuss how they are working to break through the impacts of colonization to develop a community-owned food system that is equitable, profitable and built on respectful relationships.

Hosted by Naima Penniman, Program Director at Soul Fire Farm. With farmer and author Leah Penniman; Mohawk seed keeper and farmer Rowen White; and Rev. Heber Brown, founder of the Black Church Food Security Network.

Rev. Heber Brown, a multiple award-winning community organizer and social entrepreneur, is Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD, and founding Director of Orita’s Cross Freedom School, which works to reconnect Black youth to their African heritage while providing them with hands-on learning opportunities to spark their creativity and build vocational skills. In 2015 he launched the Black Church Food Security Network, a multi-state alliance of congregations dedicated to creating a grassroots, community-led food system.

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer, mother, Vodun Manye (Queen Mother), and award-winning food justice activist who has been tending the soil and organizing for an anti-racist food system for over 20 years. She currently serves as founding Co-Executive Director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, a people-of-color led project that works toward food and land justice, which she co-founded in 2010. She is the author of: Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.

Rowen White, a seed keeper and farmer from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and a passionate activist for Indigenous seed and food sovereignty, is founder/Director of Sierra Seeds, an innovative California-based organic seed stewardship organization; and Program Director for the Indigenous Seed Keeper Network, an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Naima Penniman, an artist, activist, healer, grower and educator committed to planetary health and community resilience, is the co-founder of WILDSEED Community Farm and Healing Village, a Black and Brown-led intentional community focused on ecological collaboration, transformative justice, and intergenerational responsibility. She is also: Program Director at Soul Fire Farm, dedicated to supporting the next generation of B.I.P.O.C. (Black/Indigenous/people of color) farmers; the co-founder/co-artistic director of Climbing PoeTree, an internationally-acclaimed performance duo; a Thai Yoga Massage practitioner; and a member of Harriet’s Apothecary, a collective of Black women-identified healers.

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