Sankofa Gardening Homes
When Good Friday, March 30, finally arrived I was filled with great anticipation. As I mentioned last month, many of our ABA – or Africans Who Built America – ancestors used the Farmer’s Almanac to decide when to plant. At http://www.almanac.com/content/gardening-moon-calendar, the Farmer’s Almanac shared the planting season in Texas Region 1 and its Gardening by the Moon video.
In the video, Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, discussed the impact of the moon on planting. She said that the moon impacts the rise and fall of moisture in the earth. She went on to state that when the moon is waxing or at its brightest is the best time to plant vegetables that grow above the ground such as, greens, beans, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons and corn. This is when the moisture is nearest the earth’s surface.
When the moon is waning or less light is projecting, Janice suggested vegetables that grow beneath the earth, carrots, radishes, potatoes, onions, should be planted. This is the time when the moisture is farthest from the earth’s surface. Following the rise and fall of moisture in the earth, she suggested, will help ensure a bountiful harvest.
I am certain that our ABA ancestors in Africa were aware of this relationship with the moon and earth where they had raised bountiful crops for hundreds of years. After their enslavement in America, before they could read English, they continued the tradition of planting and harvesting bountiful crops which became the foundation of early America’s wealth, of which they did not reap the benefits.
Along with the Farmer’s Almanac, remembering what my ancestors taught me, and speaking with African American Elders, I have been able to reclaim many of the skills that ensure a bountiful harvest.
On Good Friday, as a DABA – or Descendent of Africans Who Built America – I waited patiently for the moon to plant my collard greens and okra. I was moved knowing that I was planting in rhythm with the earth and moon. Knowing that the earth’s moisture was nearest the earth’s surface gave me a natural and spiritual high. This is the way many of our ABA ancestors planted with their hands touching the soil while the moon shined brightly down on them. My emotions were heighten even more, knowing that I was planting two of the most popular crops eaten by our elders and ancestors over the years.
But I also experienced an emotional lull as I thought about how many African Americans today do not have the knowledge and skills of our ancestors and elders to be able to plant and harvest their own food. We advanced in society and left the land behind. We also left the moon behind.
I was later renewed when a neighbor of mine, Kevin – who I had been talking to about Sankofa Garden Homes – came by and said he had planted on Good Friday as well. What a joy, another Sankofa Garden Home gardener, someone to talk about what we had planted and the anticipation of our harvest. I hope to share his garden in a future article.
Kevin had been having health problems and I had encouraged him to begin growing some of his own organic food to help aid in his healing. While aiding in physical healing, his garden would also be mentally stimulating as well.
DABAs who have read this column have shared with me that they will be starting their gardens. How exciting, as we reclaim the gardening knowledge and skills of our ABA ancestors and Elders. We will be able to transform food deserts into food oases one African American home at a time.
As we approach the celebration of Earth Day, April 22, I encourage you to plant something with your family. It can be an above ground garden or pot plants of herbs. If you don’t have enough space or sunshine in your yard, then purchase a plant light from a local lawn and garden store and grow plants inside your home. A gooseneck light or dome light during the day works the best.
As we start a new spring, I look forward to hearing from you and knowing more about your Sankofa Garden Home. We will hold our first Sankofa Garden Home Fall Harvest Festival this fall. I look forward to us sharing our stories and our harvest.
As you work in your garden, don’t forget to include your children and your neighbor’s children. As I stated earlier, you will help build up their immune systems while passing on the knowledge of Sankofa gardening. They will also be developing their science, technology, engineering and math skills.
The greatest reward will be when you prepare and eat your organic food together as a family. You will get a great sense of togetherness and accomplishment; cooking, canning and freezing your fresh organic vegetables. Your Sankofa garden will connect you back to nature and the earth.
As I reflect on planting by the light of the moon, I am still moved by the energy I experienced. I hear many African Americans talking about what we lost as a result of being enslaved in America. I take a different perspective on this.
In spite of what was done to us, we have overcome. We must now reclaim the knowledge of our past while producing new knowledge. We must understand that no one can destroy culture. Like energy, you can only transfer it or transform it. We were transferred from Africa to America through slavery, not destroyed. We have transformed our culture and have become a uniquely different people. From our African roots, we have produced new fruits of spirituals, blues, jazz, soul, bebop, doo-wop and hip-hop music. We created cuisines of gumbo, collard greens, fried chicken, watermelon, black-eyed peas, hot water cornbread, and bread pudding. Now we must celebrate our new African American identity and claim and celebrate who we are!
Until Next Month, may your Sankofa Garden Home grow!
Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom, is a historian and president of Sankofa Education Services. He provides this column on Sankofa Garden Homes with the purpose of: “Taking the chains off our brains, so our minds can work.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.