by Liz Carlisle, Foreword by Ricardo Salvador
A powerful movement is happening in farming today -- farmers are reconnecting with their roots to fight climate change. For one woman, that's meant learning her tribe's history to help bring back the buffalo. For another, it's meant preserving forest purchased by her great-great-uncle, among the first wave of African Americans to buy land. Others are rejecting monoculture to grow corn, beans, and squash the way farmers in Mexico have done for centuries. Still others are rotating crops for the native cuisines of those who fled the "American wars" in Southeast Asia.
In Healing Grounds, Liz Carlisle tells the stories of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian American farmers who are reviving their ancestors' methods of growing food -- techniques long suppressed by the industrial food system. These farmers are restoring native prairies, nurturing beneficial fungi, and enriching soil health. While feeding their communities and revitalizing cultural ties to land, they are steadily stitching ecosystems back together and repairing the natural carbon cycle. This, Carlisle shows, is the true regenerative agriculture - not merely a set of technical tricks for storing CO2 in the ground, but a holistic approach that values diversity in both plants and people.
Cultivating this kind of regenerative farming will require reckoning with our nation's agricultural history -- a history marked by discrimination and displacement. And it will ultimately require dismantling power structures that have blocked many farmers of color from owning land or building wealth.
The task is great, but so is its promise. By coming together to restore these farmlands, we can not only heal our planet, we can heal our communities and ourselves.
"In Healing Grounds, Liz Carlisle makes the compelling case that soil can save us from climate catastrophe, but only if the global Indigenous communities who originated soil stewardship practices lead the way. In a tone that is both authoritative and humble, Carlisle convinces the reader that the same extractive forces that wrest carbon from the soil, also yank earth stewards from the land. Further, there can be no ecosystemic redemption without addressing colonialism. Healing Grounds is a refreshingly truthful account of real roots of climate chaos and the authentic path to healing." -- Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black and Co-Founder, Soul Fire Farm
"In this wonderful book, Liz Carlisle shares the dissidence against the dominion of colonial capitalism in these United States. She analyzes what America might become, and shares a map for the noble work ahead to get there. The best of it is that the ground beneath your feet will never feel the same again." -- Raj Patel, coauthor of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet and co-director of "The Ants & The Grasshopper"
About the Author:
Liz Carlisle is Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, where she teaches courses on food and farming. She is the author of Lentil Underground and co-author, with Bob Quinn, of Grain by Grain, and she has written both popular and academic articles about food and farm policy, incentivizing soil health practices, and supporting new entry farmers.