African American Musuem, Black History, Freedom Garden, Inspiration, Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, Travel and Leisure -

Louisiana’s ‘Freedom Garden’ tells story of survival

African American Musuem, Black History, Freedom Garden, Inspiration, Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, Travel and Leisure -

Louisiana’s ‘Freedom Garden’ tells story of survival

Kathe Hambrick-Jackson has set out to bring a slice of history to kids in her neighborhood by teaching African botany through the legacy of escaped slaves and lessons of survival with farming and horticulture.  Hambrick-Jackson is the director of the River Road African-American Museum in Donaldsonville, Louisiana which houses the ‘Freedom Garden’. The Museum is dedicated to the history and heritage of African-Americans along the Mississippi River.

The idea came from a conversation with a group of kids who when asked how they would have survived life as an escaped slave came up with some rather impractical answers. Hambrick-Jackson asked the kids, “if you were going to free yourself and leave this plantation tonight, what would you bring to eat?” When one of the kids said they would bring a bag of chips Hambrick-Jackson recognized that there was a part of history and a story of  survival that had never been explained to this generation.

That’s when Hambrick began to sow the seeds of what would become known as the, “Freedom Garden.”  The garden is a compendium of plants that would have been well-known to both African and American born slaves. Most of the vegetables and fruits grown in the garden are staples of southern cuisine. She began to grow blackberries, cowpeas, okra and rice, foods that would have been easy for freed slaves to forage and survive on while making their way through the muddy swamps along the banks of the Mississippi river.

The legacy of slavery and sharecropping has made gardening and farming obsolescent in many places in the south. Hambrick-Jackson told the New York Times that getting her parents involved in the garden has been a challenge.

“A lot of people our parents’ age worked so hard and they got so little out of it, they won’t come back to the farm,” she said.

However, she hopes that kids in the neighborhood who pass through the garden will begin to learn how the legacy of farming and gardening were the only means by which many African-Americans managed to survive as slaves and free people decades after slavery.

Follow Caryn Freeman on Twitter.

The post Louisiana’s ‘Freedom Garden’ tells story of survival appeared first on theGrio.


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