Sankofa Garden Homes: Holiday gifts fresh from the garden

CLARENCE GLOVER | 12/18/2017, 11:49 a.m.
As we prepare to engage in gift giving, many of us would not think of giving food as a gift. ...
Professor Freedom presents a gift of collard greens from his Sankofa Garden Home.

Gumbo is one of the classic dishes that connects us directly to our African roots. Made popular in coastal southern states, like New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, it a dish that fills the home with a pleasant aroma and brings everyone dipping from the same pot in a traditional African style of communal eating and fellowship. Not only can okra be a gift of food, but it is gift of family, friends and warm fellowship during a season when the cold keeps us bound indoors.

For a cooking demonstration, see Professor Freedom’s Cotton Pickin’ Proud for okra cutting on YouTube.

As we give to others and others give to us from our gardens, we develop a sense of sharing the different foods we grow. As in years past, everyone did not grow the same things, so it was common for neighbors to share what they grew with each other, making for communal farmers markets through the countryside. Sharing from our gardens was a way of fellowshipping that built strong communities. It was also a source of pride, because one was proud and thankful for the harvest they had been blessed with to share.

As we journey through winter and prepare for spring, now is the time to be thinking about your spring Sankofa Garden Home. The first thing you should be thinking is east/west. This means knowing the orientation of the rising and setting of the sun on your property. You will want to plant your garden where it will get the most sunlight. Secondly, make sure you have access to a water source for easy watering.

Feeding the garden

And third, good soil, fertilizer and compost. I recommend you start with a 5 foot by 5 foot above-ground garden because you can easily buy organic soil and fertilizer from Home Depot. As for compost, begin keeping grass clippings, leaves and vegetable table scraps in a pile in a corner in your back yard in preparation for the spring planting.

You should also be thinking about what you want to plant. I suggest you begin with one plant of your choice, like greens, tomatoes, peppers or onions. By growing one plant, you can focus on what it needs to grow while having a fair amount to harvest when the time comes. As you master one crop, you can expand and diversify your garden or grow more of the same plant. Be sure not to forget to plant spices such as chives or basil. You can grow these in pots. If you plant rosemary, plant it in the ground, because it will grow into a large plant that will produce the year round.

While you may not have given a gift from your Sankofa Garden Home this year, I know you will be able to do so next year after you have grown a wonderful garden this spring and summer.

As I stated in my last article, your Sankofa Garden Home will become a spiritual, cultural and communal blessing as you are thankful to the Creator and nature, the sources from which it grows.

Have a blessed Watch Freedom Night on Dec. 31 and a jubilant Emancipation Day on Jan. 1. Don’t forget to eat your black-eyed peas and collard greens with your family and friends, our Freedom Day Meal.

Give thanks to God for our freedom. Hallelujah!

Until next month, good Sankofa gardening!