2019 Winter Conference Keynote Speakers

In keeping with this year's theme—Food Traditions: Celebrating our Agricultural Roots—we are delighted to announce our keynote speakers:

Leah Penniman Saturday, February 16, 2019, 9am
Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm

"Farming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice"

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol 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. As co-Executive Director, 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 regional 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, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun.

Leah 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 is a love song for the land and her people.

SUNDAY, February 17, 2019, 1130am

"Eight Sisters: Connection to Place Through an Abenaki Lens"

Melody Walker Brook is an educator, activist, and member of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. Melody received her master's degree from the University of Vermont in History and focuses much of her work on Abenaki concepts of personhood and identity. Melody is the former vice chair and chair of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and is a citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Band. She has been an adjunct professor at various institutions for the past decade and spoken at the Tedx Stowe Conference in 2018 on Weaving a Thread Through the Seven Generations. In her keynote Melody will focus on the agricultural history of Vermont beginning with the Abenaki community. She will highlight the richness of Abenaki traditions as a way to understand concepts of personhood, connection to place, sustainability, and innovation.