For Black History Month, we have compiled a set of books and other media that feature stories and contributions of African American children and adults in the food and garden space. We encourage you not only to use these during the month of February, but year round – although the cold winter months are a good time to pull some books from the shelves and dream about spring veggies together!
Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis
By Robbin Gourley
Long before the natural-food movement gained popularity, Edna Lewis championed purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and farm-to-table eating. She was a chef when female chefs—let alone African American female chefs—were few and far between.
By DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Right in the middle of Marcy’s city block is a vacant lot, littered and forlorn. Sometimes just looking at it makes Marcy feel sad. Then one spring, Marcy has a wonderful idea: Instead of a useless lot, why not a green and growing space for everyone to enjoy?
By Eve Bunting
A city girl and her father buy plants, potting soil, and a window box at the supermarket, ride the bus to their apartment, and put together a colorful gift for the child’s mother.
How a Seed Grows
By Helene J. Jordan
Once, a long time ago, the oak tree in your backyard could have fit your pocket! How can a little acorn grow so big? This book shares the secret of seeds. With the right combination of water, sun, and soil a seed will send roots down into the ground and shoot leaves up into the sunlight. Seeds can grow into flowers or vegetables or even trees. Look inside to learn the simple steps for turning a packet of seeds into a garden.
Lola Plants a Garden
By Anna McQuinn
How does your garden grow? Book-loving Lola is inspired by a collection of garden poems that she reads with her mommy. She wants to plant her own garden of beautiful flowers, so she and Mommy go to the library to check out books about gardening. They choose their flowers and buy their seeds. They dig and plant. And then they wait. Lola finds it hard to wait for her flowers to grow, but she spends the time creating her own flower book. Soon she has a garden full of sunflowers and invites all of her friends for cakes and punch and a story amongst the flowers.
The Garden of Happiness
By Erika Tamar
A littered lot in New York’s Alphabet City is transformed into a lush garden by people of the neighborhood. Young Marisol finds a small patch of her own, where she plants a large, flat seed. As it grows up and up, it surprises everyone and becomes the most special plant in the Garden of Happiness.
Two Old Potatoes and Me
By John Coy
One day at her dad’s house, a young girl finds two old potatoes in the cupboard. “Gross.” But before she can throw them away, her dad suggests they try to grow new potatoes from the old ones, which have sprouted eyes.
Middle & High School
By Paul Fleischman
A Vietnamese girl plants six lima beans in a Cleveland vacant lot. Looking down on the immigrant-filled neighborhood, a Romanian woman watches suspiciously. A school janitor gets involved, then a Guatemalan family. Then muscle-bound Curtis, trying to win back Lateesha. Pregnant Maricela. Amir from India. A sense of community sprouts and spreads.
In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people―a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.
By Monica M. White
In May 1967, internationally renowned activist Fannie Lou Hamer purchased forty acres of land in the Mississippi Delta, launching the Freedom Farms Cooperative (FFC). A community-based rural and economic development project, FFC would grow to over 600 acres, offering a means for local sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and domestic workers to pursue community wellness, self-reliance, and political resistance. Life on the cooperative farm presented an alternative to the second wave of northern migration by African Americans–an opportunity to stay in the South, live off the land, and create a healthy community based upon building an alternative food system as a cooperative and collective effort.
Meet Ron Finley, a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Central Los Angeles food prison, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato. In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.
In the dirt with Ron Finley, the Gangsta Gardener – Los Angeles Times (article)
A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA – TED Talk (video)