Meet the Farmers
Leah Penniman got her farming start as a teen with the Food Project in Boston, MA. She then worked with the Farm School caring for goats and teaching city kids where carrots come from. Leah also worked for and co-managed Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA for several years, co-founded Youth Grow in Worcester, MA, and worked with farmers in Ghana, West Africa and Komye, Haiti. She is a full time high school science teacher and works hard on the farm in between. Her areas of leadership at Soul Fire include youth educational programming, international solidarity with Haitian farmers, food justice organizing, teaching aerial silk trapeze, and anything that involves heavy lifting, sweat, and soil. To learn more about Leah visit the following:
- WHMT TED Talks Education – Project Based Learning for World Change (41:47-48:35)
- Food Justice at Soul Fire Farm – published in Whole Thinking Journal (page 21-23)
- Today’s Woman Feature, Channel 13
- Good Food Good Jobs, Personal Interview
Jonah Vitale-Wolff apprenticed at Live Power Farm in CA after working on farms throughout New Zealand, Spain, and Central America through the WWOOF program, and was hooked. He returned to his northeast roots to build skills as a farmer in this particular climate by working over many seasons at Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, MA. Jonah also coordinated the city-wide community gardens program in Worcester, MA with the Regional Environmental Council, and later collaborated with Leah to start Youth GROW, making urban agriculture central to his understanding of the food system.
Soul Fire Farm is a project of Jonah and Leah’s hearts – of family and relationships, and the profound ways in which the sacred connection to land creates a powerful vessel for social change and personal transformation, growth and healing. Jonah finds the open sky and bird song foundational for a good life, but not unless he can share it with friends and community. Jonah is also an accomplished timber framer, natural builder and educator with his former company Hudson Valley Natural Building.
Neshima and Emet Vitale-Penniman got an early start with growing, assisting parents and friends with tending chickens, planting seeds, and cleaning garlic. The children excel at CSA packing with exceptional attention to detail, positive attitudes, and usually – singing. Neshima also brings her passion as a harpist to the farm, as well as her spirited ways of moving her body through gymnastics, aerial silks, and just playing around. Emet is a student of traditional West African drumming, and regularly graces the sound waves of the farm with his poetry, singing, rhymes, and has been known to spontaneously break dance at the slightest sound of a beat.
Capers Rumph began to understand the profound need to connect with land while living in Los Angeles, CA. It was from that concrete launching pad that she set off around the world by bicycle, sailboat, and the sheer goodwill of humankind with the dual goals of reconnecting with the earth and understanding ways of living that have profoundly positive social and ecological impacts.
Though her background is in community development in conflict and post-conflict regions, that search led her again and again to farming. She sees ecological farming as an incredible bridge between global human rights issues and environmental protection. She came back to the United States to get great at farming in order to utilize those skills in post-conflict regions worldwide.
Her work at Soul Fire focuses largely around soil fertility management, chicken whispering, and food sovereignty activism. She is daily fulfilled using her body and mind to connect with the earth and communities here, and doesn’t mind the added perk of All-You-Can-Eat salad greens.
Capers also shares her breath-taking photography and writes a blog called the Opposite of War.