Sankofa Garden Homes: Growing, harvesting cotton and collard greens

CLARENCE GLOVER | 10/16/2017, 10:01 a.m.
This month I will be addressing two crops related to the African American experience: cotton and collard greens. In my ...
Professor Freedom kneels behind rolls of collard greens planted in his Sankofa Home Garden. Professor Freedom

It goes without saying that if Dallas is “Cotton Town,” then the role that African Americans played in making it the wealthy city it is today is not known by many of its citizens. We should be more vested in the cotton industry today and reap its wealth. For more information on the subject, research Dallas Freedman Towns.

During my research, I found that my cotton is possibly the first cotton grown in Dallas in many years. Fortunately, unlike our ABA ancestors, I don’t have to stay out of school to pick my cotton, but rather can use it in schools to educate others about cotton and our relationship to it and the building of wealth in Dallas and America. For more insight, research Joppa Cotton.

I am certain you are wondering by now how collard greens relate to cotton. During harvest, while cotton was being picked, collard greens were being planted. This sturdy green plant would grow to its maturity during the winter season. It was during this time that we would hear our elders say, “Them collard’s gonna be good and tender by first frost.” The first frost made the sturdy leaves tender and easier to cook.

As the holidays came and families gathered after picking cotton, collard greens were often central to what has come to be known as African American soul food. Often eaten during Christmas dinner and certainly on New Year’s Day, which is African American Emancipation Day (1863), or on Juneteenth (1865) in Texas, collard greens have come to be known for more than a holiday special.

Now considered among one of the super green foods when cooked without pork, collard greens when eaten in a balanced diet or juiced on a regular basis can help to alter many health problems we face as African Americans today.

Whole Foods has called collards “the new kale.” We’ve always eaten collards, but we must now eat them the right way to get the full health benefits they have to offer.

Let’s celebrate both cotton and collard greens – to our future wealth and health.

I wish you good Sankofa Gardening!

Sankofa Education Services is provided by Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom, for the purpose of “Taking the chains off our brains, so our minds can work.” He can be reached at clarencegloverjr@aol.com.