Lifelong farmer, permaculture designer, environmental educator and public speaker Pandora Thomas is on the verge of opening EARTHseed, Sonoma County’s first Black-owned and operated permaculture farm and learning center.
“The center will celebrate the Afro-indigenous roots of permaculture,” Thomas says. “There’s so much we can hold up and honor. This center wants to be a place that honors the land we are going to steward, but it’s also going to be a safe, beautiful place for Black folks to go and see ourselves in abundance and happy in connection with our Earth.”
Recently, Thomas announced that EARTHseed will make its home at Gabriel Farm, a 14-acre, organic orchard with a 75-year history in West Sonoma County.
“It’s the perfect canvas for our new home,” Thomas says of the farm. “It has been run really well, and there’s all this potential to generate income in ways that feel like the Earth is tended and loved as well as the people on it.”
To close escrow on the farm, Thomas raised over 2.7 million dollars with community support from organizations and agencies like Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, Graton Rancheria Tribe, Ceres Trust, Amy’s Kitchen, Sonoma Clean Power Authority and 11th Hour Foundation.
That support also came from individuals throughout the region and country, who want to join EARTHseed on its mission to serve as a working farm and educational center to reconnect communities to Afro-Indigenous principles and practices.
One of those individuals is local musician Lee Vandeveer, who volunteers with the North Bay Organizing Project, and who is one of several organizers for this weekend’s Benefit for EARTHseed online concert streaming on Social Distance Live’s Facebook page on Saturday, March 20, at 7pm.
The show—which is supported but not hosted by EARTHseed—features an impressive lineup of the North Bay’s brightest stars, including NorBay Award-winning hip-hop artist Kayatta, NorBay Award-winning electronica artist Eki Shola, longtime rocker John Courage, roots-reggae outfit the Bloodstones, world music band La Gente SF, rapper Tru Lyric, sing-songwriter Star Blue, multi-instrumentalist Libby, Babebott, solo artist Schlee and the Lee Vandeveer Band.
On the Facebook event page, concert organizers write that, “Each band is dedicated to building, healing and nurturing our community and the opportunity to celebrate a future of climate justice and resiliency through EARTHseed is an honor for all involved.”