Keynote Speakers


Leah Penniman
Soul Fire Farm

“Uprooting Racism.
Seeding Sovereignty.”
(Watch on YouTube.)
See Keynote Slides.

Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices—from organic agriculture to the CSA—have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence have deprived the Black community of farmland, capital, and healthy food access. Soul Fire Farm is part of a national network working toward food sovereignty and land justice. Learn how we can build upon Afro-Indigenous wisdom in reshaping the food system to be based on equity and abundance rather than exploitation and deprivation. Another world is not only possible, it’s on the way!

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist who founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. Soul Fire’s food sovereignty work has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Grist 50, and James Beard Leadership Award, among others. Leah’s new 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. 


John Ikerd
Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics

“Reclaiming the Future of Farming”
(Watch on YouTube.)

Transcript of John’s 2020 Keynote Speech
Transcript of John’s 1999 Keynote Speech

Speaking at the 1999 MOSES Conference, John said, “The food and fiber industry most certainly has a future… But there will be no future for farming unless we have the courage to challenge and disprove the conventional wisdom that farmers must either get bigger or get out.” He saw the potential for a positive future for farming that wasn’t about more and better industrial technology but about people.

At the 2020 MOSES Conference, John looks at why a “great transformation” didn’t happen in agriculture—people-centered farming posed a threat to the corporate agri-food status quo—and shows how the growing public awareness of people-centered farming systems as a way to mitigate the negative ecological and social impacts of industrial agriculture offers new hope for the transformation of the farm policies needed to reclaim the future of farming.

John was raised on a small dairy farm in Missouri and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He worked in private industry for a time and spent 30 years in various faculty positions at four different state universities before retiring in early 2000. Since retiring, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on agriculture and economics.


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