Recent Comments


    At Brown Girl Farms, Earth Day Is Every Day

    Birthed from a belief that queer, Black women farmers need more representation and celebration in the growing world, Ashlee Johnson-Geisse founded Brown Girl Farms. Brown Girl Farms, located in the Hayward hills, is a small-scale family farm grounded in community. Ashlee and her wife Jen Johnson-Geisse live at the farm with their son Rylynn Anthony and farm dog Journey.

    Ashlee created this intentional space during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in response to an urgent need for plant starts and fresh produce within the Bay Area community. She told the San Francisco Bay Times, “Brown Girl Farms serves to spread loving intention to community through market vegetables, African American heritage crops, and unique seasonal flower bouquets. Brown Girl Farms strives to center growing practices that reflect interconnectedness to the land and African Indigenous Agroecology practices. By supporting Brown Girl Farms and other local, queer, Black owned businesses tending to the land, you are supporting the earth and our local community this Earth Day!”

    Here are just some of the practices, as described by Ashlee, that make Brown Girl Farms one of the Bay Area’s most eco-friendly farms:

    Low Till

    “Constantly turning the soil has detrimental effects on the microbial life and abundance of biodiversity that lives within your soil. We strive to lessen the use of heavy machinery like rototillers and mowers and instead allow decomposers like worms to loosen up and aerate the soil. We use hand tools like shovels, garden hoes, and digging forks to help cultivate and tend to the soil.”

    Polyculture and Intercropping

    “Rather than plant uniform rows of the same crops, we plant multiple crops in the same area, utilizing the symbiotic relationship plants have with one another. Marigolds are planted along with tomatoes to deter garden pests from the fruits; beans and other legumes are planted with kale and other leafy greens to fix nitrogen into the soil and support plant structure and growth; and sprays of pollinator-friendly flowers and plants are nestled within various fruits and vegetables.”

    Heritage Crops

    “Honoring our blended family heritages and cultures, our farm values growing several African-American heritage crops including collard greens, black eyed peas, sweet potatoes, yams, green beans, onions, turnips, greens, radish greens, and melons.”


    “Although not always talked about or uplifted, beekeeping has deep roots and history within the Black community and we feel passionate about uplifting Black and Brown beekeeping. Beekeeping is a practice and tradition that was first recorded by Ancient Egyptians who kept bees and recorded beekeeping life through hieroglyphics. Here at the farm we partner with Happy Organics to manage our hive and provide education and nourishment to the community. Our pollinator field features a diverse range of pollinator friendly flowers and plants for the bees to enjoy!”


    “Chickens are a special part of our life here on the farm. We tend to a flock of chickens who provide us with beautiful farm fresh eggs as well as help us manage our produce scraps by feasting on them and turning them into manure! Our chickens also provide us moments of laughter and comfort!”

    Seed Saving

    “Here at the farm, collecting and saving seeds from various crops is an intentional and meditative ancient process for which we have much gratitude. By saving seeds we are able to reduce the amount of seed we purchase for the farm as well as select seeds from plants whose traits we favor. We love creating seed packets as an offering to community to carry on the power of growing nourishment.”

    On a seasonal basis, Brown Girl Farms partners with local businesses for mobile grocery pop-ups. They also have an online farmstand and participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) produce box program. Additionally, Ashlee has created Soul in Your Bowl: Preserving Black Food Legacies, which is an audio series recorded at the farm about the importance of Black food and family legacy. As Ashlee shared, “My great-grandmothers were strong, independent, women who kept their family and faith lives close. Their love of cooking and use of African American heritage crops made an early and lasting impression on me.”

    Earth Month 2024
    Published on April 18, 2024