Leah Penniman was raised in Massachusetts and began farming as a teenager with The Food Project
in Boston. Penniman holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University
. Li has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. She has worked at the Food Project, Farm School, Many Hands Organic Farm, Youth Grow and with farmers internationally in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico. Li co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission of ending racism and injustice in the food system and reclaiming the inherent right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system as Black and Brown people. The work of Penniman and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program
, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. Leah Penniman has also worked as a science teacher at University Park Campus School, Tech Valley High School, and Darrow School and was founding director of the Harriet Tubman Democratic High School. Penniman lives on the farm with her partner, Jonah Vitale-Wolff and their two children, Neshima and Emet Vitale-Penniman.