Climate Champs Leah & Naima Penniman, Conservation Through Poverty Alleviation, Kids for Saving Earth!

by | Nov 12, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Meet Climate Champions Leah Penniman and Naima Penniman. Plus getting to know Conservation Through Poverty Alleviation International, and Kids for Saving Earth!




Naima Penniman is a multi-dimensional artist, activist, healer, grower and educator committed to planetary health and community resilience. And by multidimensional, we mean

She is the Program Director at SOUL FIRE FARM, supporting the next generation of B.I.P.O.C. farmers with land-based education and mobilizes public support for food sovereignty through on and off-farm training programs, speaking and facilitation. She’s also co-Founder of WILDSEED Community Farm & Healing Village, a Black and Brown-led intentional community focused on ecological collaboration, transformative justice, and intergenerational responsibility.

And Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Climbing Poetree, an internationally-acclaimed performance duo that uses art as a tool for popular education, community activism, and personal transformation. Did I mention she’s also a climate poet?

Who is Naima Penniman and why is she intent on embarrassing us all by being so productive? Perhaps it’s her understanding of the interconnection of everything: 

 That was an excerpt from “Our Exhale Makes This Air”, and it’s but one example of her ability to synthesize climate change, food and ecological justice. Check out her works in the links from the deeper dive section at the bottom of this story at

DEEPER DIVE:, KCRW, Ecomega, Our Exhale Makes Our Air



Or maybe Naima’s in competition with her sister, Leah. Leah is co-founder of the wildly successful Soul Fire Farm, in Grafton, NY. Purchased by Penniman in 2006, Soul Fire is a 72- acre farm.

The result of her experience is in a book she penned in 2018, “Farming While Black,” a guide to regenerative farming. In it, she called America’s paucity of Black farmers “food apartheid,”

In 2019, Penniman received a James Beard Leadership award “for her work facilitating powerful food sovereignty programs,” including training Black and Brown people to farm, and creating Soul Fire’s subsidized farm food program for communities “living under food apartheid.”

Penniman has over 20 years of experience as a soil steward and food sovereignty activist, having worked at the Food Project, Farm School, Many Hands Organic Farm, and Youth Grow and with farmers internationally in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico.

According to its 2019 annual report, Soul Fire Farm Institute trained 120 people of color at week-long farming immersions and 905 activists at workshops. The report also said 675 young people learned about farming and food justice.

Why does Leah Penniman matter to us? Education and dissemination. The farm’s flagship program is the Black Latinx Farmers Immersion, a 50-hour course to train beginner farmers. By 2018, 500 individuals had taken the course.

Four new small farms are in operation partly as a result – thanks to the education gained at Soul Fire Farm—one in Georgia, one in North Carolina, one about 60 miles from Soul Fire Farm in New York state, and even one in South Chicago. : Find out more about Leah Penniman and Soul Fire Farm by clicking on the links in the Deeper Dive section of this show at

DEEPER DIVE: TableUnderground, WaPo, Soul Fire Farm, Insta, Farming While Black, Wikipedia, High Hog Farm, Harriet Tubman Freedom Farm, Sweet Freedom Farm, Catatumbo Cooperative



Conservation Through Poverty Alleviation, CPALI, is an international NGO dedicated to a community-centered approach to conservation.

CPALI is founded on the principle that local populations are the key to sustainable conservation. In each new site, CPALI’s local partners develop new livelihoods through the cultivation of native resources. Local staff engage in research, organize cooperative networks and develop products that enable rural farmers to derive income through conservation. 

It’s first international project site is in Madagascar. There it is working with local farmers to develop a previously unknown revenue source from silkworm cultivation. By planting formerly deforested native rainforest trees, native silk moths returned to the region. The silk moths produce wild silk, which the farmers harvest and market abroad.

But what does that really mean and why does CPALI matter to us? You’ve heard of the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well CPALI acts on the belief that it takes a village to grow healthy food and it takes a village to sustain healthy soil.

Healthy soil is the key to biodiversity. And biodiversity is the key to protecting the climate. Wherever there has been widespread adoption of monocultures, soil health has deteriorated, environmental degradation has occurred, and finally animal and human health has suffered.

CPALI emphasizes the role of agroforestry in rebuilding environments, livelihoods and local communities. Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. It had been practiced in the United States and around the world for centuries. Agroforestry is a key component in regenerative agriculture.

Oh and did we mention that healthy soil sequesters billions of tons of CO2?

DEEPER DIVE: CPALI, AgroForestry, Mongabay



Kids for Saving Earth, this is a fantastic group I’ve known about since the early days of Facebook—er, Meta…yeah …. Facebook—back when we had the iLiveGreen Foundation. It started as a tribute to a young man named Clinton Hill. Clinton started a kid’s club dedicated to peaceful, Earth-saving actions. Tragically, Clinton died early of cancer.

In 1989, his parents, Tessa and William continued Clint’s vision by establishing Kids for Saving Earth.

The mission of Kids for Saving Earth is to educate, inspire, and empower children to protect the Earth’s environment. Kids for Saving Earth provides educational materials, posters, and a highly acclaimed website featuring environmental education curriculum and activities.

Many of the programs have been adapted to the Internet to make it faster and less costly to provide Earth-savers with updated information. There’s even a Green shop for awesome KSE merch! Through Kids for Saving Earth’s Green Shop, you can order educational posters, certificates, guidebooks, CD’s, “green” gifts and supplies, and much more.

Why does KSE matter to us? Because Kids for Saving Earth promotes “education into action”, through environmental education curriculum for instructors including action projects, worksheets, music programs, art projects and more, helping other educators teach youth how to combat or at least adapt to and become resilient in the face of climate change.