In a county celebrated for its agriculture, simply 2% of Sonoma’s farmland is Black-owned. However when Pandora Thomas first stepped onto Gabriel Farm, A bit of land On the market outdoors Sebastopol, she thought to herself, “This place Is wanting me.”
Not prolonged after, in March of 2021, with assist from A huge circle of collaborators And private donors, Thomas purchased the 14-acre property and based EARTHseed, California’s first Afro-Indigenous permaculture farm. EARTHseed is teeming with life. Tright here are over 4,000 fruit timber — apple, plum, persimmon — plus raspberries, native and medicinal crops, bugs, and Numerous gophers. The farm is A spot to apply and practice African agricultural expertise Which have endured and superior regardless of centuries of slavery and diaspora.
“It’s actually a reclaiming of these strategies,” Thomas says. EARTHseed’s ethos is grounded Inside the West African precept of sankofa — Which suggests, in Thomas’ phrases, “We should know wright here we acquired here from So as To maneuver forward.”
Produce, t-shirts, baskets, lavender, sage bundles, and popsicles are On the market at EARTHseed Farm in Sebastopol. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Signage by artist-in-residence, Radioactive, at EARTHseed Farm in Sebastopol. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Thomas is a designer, group-builder, and permaculture practiceer with a deep love for Sonoma County. Permaculture, as she places it, is “an ecological design system rooted in Indigenous information that elevates ecosystem well being wright hereas meeting human wants.” It’s an strategy that fosters resilience by working with pure methods, pretty than imposing a construction from The floor. In A spot like Northern California, already spracticeed by drought and wildfire, practitioners think about it’s An important system in local climate change adaptation. That’s An factor of why EARTHseed is partnering with Indigenous land stewards whose information of this place runs deep.
San Francisco resident Erica Stinemates picks blackberries to make jam at EARTHseed Farm in Sebastopol. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
San Francisco resident Erica Stinemates heads out after choosing blackberries to make jam at EARTHseed Farm in Sebastopol. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
All by way of This primary yr, Thomas and her collaborators are taking their time Attending to know the land. They’re laying groundwork— Construct up the soil, placing in water-catchment methods, and getting ready for wildfire season. They’ve hosted their first group “U-Decide” days. They typically’re exploring Definitely one of The solely strategies to make their farm, its bounty, and its practiceings out tright here to People who typically face obstacles to entry: Black people And completely different people of colour, youth, and seniors.
“Tright here’s A Method of hazard and abundance right here,” Thomas says, Looking over the rows of apple timber, heavy with fruit. “We would like that For everyone, but for Black people particularly—To return house to A bit of land and really feel like every thing they want is taken care of.”
Households and individuals can go to EARTHseed on designated U-Decide days. Look at earthseedfarm.org for choices and availability.