As a storyteller, artist, and farmer, this spirit of freedom is most evident to me within the context of Black agriculture. Many of the modern practices widely regarded as organic, sustainable or regenerative
were derived from the imagination of Black people. For example, we can trace early examples of polyculture — the process of growing plants and different species as a way to increase plant biodiversity and make crops more resilient to climate variability — back to Indigenous farmers in Western Africa
. In Ghana and Liberia, African Dark Earth — a type of super rich compost that sequesters 300% more carbon than standard topsoil — is made by mixing bone char ash, residues from soap, and crops. “It was created by women [and] continues to be so important in the community [that] each person is responsible for adding to the layers of the soil,” says Leah Penniman, co-founder and manager at Soulfire Farm
in Grafton, New York. It’s important to acknowledge that some of the earliest creative farming practices have deep cultural roots and belong
to us, especially as modern ecological movements often erase Black women from the historical record.