Leah Penniman is the Co-Director & Program Manager of Soul Fire Farm and author of the book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.
Leah is a Black Kreyol farmer who has been tending the soil for twenty years and organizing for an anti-racist food system for fifteen years. She began with the Food Project in Boston, Massachusetts, and went on to work at Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts, and Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, Massachusetts. She co-founded Youth Grow urban farm in Worcester, Massachusetts. She currently serves as founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY, a people-of-color led project that works to dismantle racism in the food system through a low-cost fresh food delivery service for people living under food apartheid, training programs for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous aspiring farmer-activists, Uprooting Racism training for food justice leaders, and regional-national-international coalition building between farmers of color advocating for policy shifts and reparations. She has dedicated her life’s work to racial justice in the food system and has been recognized by the Soros Equality Fellowship, NYSHealth Emerging Innovator Awards, The Andrew Goodman Foundation Hidden Heroes Award, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, New Tech Network National Teaching Award, Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching (New York finalist), among others. She has contributed to two published volumes, authored numerous online articles, and given dozens of public talks on the subject.
To learn more, visit soulfirefarm.org
Farmers of the Year:
fred and karen lee
Fred and Karen Lee operate Sang Lee Farms with their son William, Lucy Senesac, and many other dedicated staff. The farm produces more than 100 varieties of specialty vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, baby greens, and herbs. Consistent with the heritage of the farm, they feature Asian produce, growing many varieties of Chinese cabbages, greens, and radishes.
Fred Lee grew up working on the farm that his uncles and dad started just after World War II. For many decades, the farm’s production was focused on wholesale distribution catering to Asian markets along the East Coast, from Miami to Montreal.
In 1987, Fred moved the farm to Peconic, on the north fork of eastern Long Island. Over the last 20 years, Sang Lee Farms’ distribution and product line has changed dramatically. Sang Lee Farms was certified organic by NOFA-NY in 2007. Since then, they have focused on direct sales of their specialty organic vegetables through their CSA program, their farm stand, and at four local farmers markets.
Karen Lee has developed and produces an extensive line of value-added products with recipes which feature their produce along with dips, dressings, and sauces developed to complement their vegetables. All production is done at the farm in their certified organic farm kitchen.
Karen and Fred met at Boston University, where they were both enrolled in the Graduate School of Business. They have been married for 37 years and have three grown kids. Their son William now helps manage all aspects of the farm. Fred and Karen feel fortunate to continue to have a great team to help them weather all the ups and downs of a farm business.
To learn more visit sangleefarms.com
Ken Greene and Rowen White
Opening remarks for the Friday night keynote from Ken Greene of Hudson Valley Seed Company and Rowen White of Sierra Seeds will tie together the Seed Conference with the Organic Farming and Gardening Conference. Rowen will also offer a prayer in recognition of the land we occupy and the work we do.
New York State Commissioner of Agriculture, Richard Ball
The New York State Commissioner of Agriculture, Richard Ball, will provide the opening remarks for the Saturday night keynote.
Special Guest Presenter:
Jean-Martin is a farmer, educator, and award-winning author of the best-selling book The Market Gardener. He specializes in organic and biologically intensive vegetable production and is the co-founder, along with his wife Maude-Hélène Desroches, of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized micro-farm in Southern Quebec known for its high productivity and profitability. He was also the keynote speaker at the 2018 EcoFarm Conference in California, one of largest sustainable farming conferences in the country. Jean-Martin’s participation in our winter conference is made possible our Patron Sponsor, Tend.
To learn more visit themarketgardener.com