Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gardening with History

On the last Saturday in July, we had special guest Michael Twitty visit the garden and share an engaging history lesson with our Growing Food, Growing Together families. Mr. Twitty is a "culinary historian" whose focus is on the agricultural history and food cultures of African Americans.
Our discussion with Mr. Twitty ranged from the history of enslavement in the United States to crop origins and the heritage varieties of vegetables and livestock that are in danger of becoming extinct.

Mr. Twitty did a wonderful job of keeping the children in the group included and engaged in the conversation and helped them connect what they have learned and experienced in the garden this summer to American history. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, including a number of garden volunteers who paused to listen in from time to time.

The day's perhaps most valuable lesson to the children was that they should not regard ancestors who were enslaved with shame, but that their accomplishments in the face of enslavement can become a source of pride. Mr. Twitty's message encourages open conversations about race and American history and both the past, present and future of agriculture in the U.S. We look forward to future conversations with Mr. Twitty and new ways to connect the garden to African American culinary histories!

You can find out more about Michael Twitty's work on his website,


  1. Mr. Twitty's presentation (from what I was able to listen to between weeding, mulching, and harvesting delicious beans) was wicked-awesome! I have never thought about the connection between what I do with plants and our country's history. It was wonderful to learn, and a joy to see the kids so interested in Mr. Twitty and the topic!

  2. Looks like M. Twitty needs to make this a regular visit, Great stuff!