These days, we can get almost everything we need in our local supermarket. Whether it is meat, fish, or fruit and vegetables, we can easily shop for ingredients, pay for them and bring them home to cook for our family.
But it wasn’t like this many years ago, especially for people who lived in the countryside. Families grew their fruits and vegetables in their backyard, and it was one of their primary sources of food.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and go back to the time when growing food at home was the norm:
Farming started as early as 10,000 BC when hunters who traveled to different parts of the country searching for food found various wild grains and gathered their seeds to scatter back home. On a land known as the Fertile Crescent, wheat and barley were some of the first homegrown foods.
Home gardening for black Americans
Home gardening was a part of life for Africans, so when they arrived in America as slaves, many continued to practice the same love for growing food at home, which strongly influenced America.
In West African agriculture, home gardening focused on vegetatively propagated food crops rather than those grown from seeds. But you can also see that there are influences from South America and Southeast Asia in terms of what staple food crops are grown in the continent.
There was also a time when vegetables from Europe like beans, thyme, and cabbages were grown in West Africa.
The enslaved Africans also brought different crops that are now staples in the country, including okra, eggplant, and watermelon. Some researchers also noted that the propagation and widespread use of tomatoes in the southern parts of the United States came from African American growers.
Black Americans used to tend to gardens and farms in these areas and their gardening skills allowed for these crops to be grown from generation to generation.
Even after slavery was abolished, African Americans continued to tend to these lands in a practice known as sharecropping. Although they only had a small piece of land to use for growing food crops, Black Americans grew different fruits and vegetables to use for cooking.
A typical African American yard didn’t have grass. They had what was called the swept yard. Both the front and back yard were kept clean and swept smooth to make way for planting crops and reduce the growth of weeds.
Black Americans planted vegetables in rows and watered regularly, especially during the summer when there wasn’t much rainfall. They used animal manure and wood ash to nourish the soil and help the vegetables grow abundantly for harvesting.
Now you know a little history of growing food at home. Nothing beats the joy of getting your hands into the soil and growing your food. It’s not only about necessity, but it’s also the joy of knowing exactly where your food comes from.