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Monday, September 16, 2019

Soul Fire Farm in Grafton will receive 2019 New Patroon Award

The Albany Roundtable has selected Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, to receive its prestigious New Patroon Award for their efforts to end racism and injustice in our food system, and to bring diverse communities together to support sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health and environmental justice. The award will be presented at the Albany Roundtable luncheon on THURSDAY, October 10 (note date change to avoid conflict with Yom Kippur).

The farm was founded by Leah Penniman and her partner Jonah Vitale-Wolff in 2006 after they moved from Massachusetts to Albany’s South End. The farm works to involve more black and brown people in sustainable agriculture. Out of New York State’s 33,000 farms, only 106 have a person of color in a decision-making role.

Among Soul Fire Farms strategic goals for 2019 are:
  • Grow 20,000 pounds of vegetables, fruits, and plant medicine and 250 chickens intensively on 2 acres of land using low-till methods and sequestering 2,400 pounds of carbon.
  • Train 130+ new farmer-activists through their BIPOC FIRE (Black-Indigenous-People of Color Farming in Relationship with Earth). At least 50% of graduates go on to work as growers and/or food system changemakers.
  • Strengthen connections between the local community and the land by providing daylong food justice programs to more than 250 BIPOC youth, community farm days to more than 300 intergenerational community members, and “Soul Fire in the City” lawn-to-garden workshops.
  • Provide affordable, doorstep delivery of farm fresh organic vegetables, herbs, eggs, and meat to 80 families through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

“When Soul Fire Farm reconnects people to the land and restores pride and honor to the act of growing food, they’re not just fostering farmers, they’re building community,” said Christopher Burke, President of the Albany Roundtable. “While addressing food sovereignty and food security issues, they’re modeling agency and involved citizenship. We are delighted to honor them with the Roundtable’s New Patroon award.”

The featured speaker for the October 10 luncheon is Jeff Buell, principal of Redburn Development. Redburn is leading the next generation of real estate development through their commitment to social responsibility, resiliency and community partnerships across the Capital Region.

The Albany Roundtable established its Good Patroon Award in 1988 to celebrate outstanding contributions to the community by institutions and individuals. While the Good Patroon Award has traditionally honored organizations and individuals with a long record of service to the community, the Roundtable launched its New Patroon Award in 2011 to highlight and encourage the work of newer organizations.

The October 10 Roundtable Luncheon begins at 12:00 noon and will be held at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany at 141 Washington Avenue. The luncheon is open to the public and the cost is $20. The University Club will serve lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m., with the program commencing at 12:30. Reservations are required by Monday, October 7 and may be made by prepaying online, by calling 518-992-5360 or by sending an e-mail to

“When he died in 1839, Stephen Van Rensselaer III was remembered as ‘The Good Patroon’ for his benevolent attitude toward the residents of Rensselaerswyck,” said Burke. “The Good Patroon and New Patroon Awards are the Albany Roundtable’s means of honoring those leaders who make our community a better place to live. We are so pleased to be able to present Soul Fire Farm with this award for their efforts to reconnect people with the source and production of the healthy foods their bodies need and deserve.”