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Food Access Program: A Conversation with Two Neighborhood Gardeners Part Two, Backyard Growers in Old Hill

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2020 September Issue Newsletter

By Anna Gilbert-Muhammad, NOFA/Mass Food Access Coordinator

(Continued from part one, highlighting two backyard growers in the Mason Square area of Springfield, MA)

It is wonderful to speak to the elders of a community. A husband and wife team, Ms. Audrey and Mr. Walter (that is what I call them–this wonderful couple is older than me, so I show them respect by referring to them as Ms. and Mr.), and I enjoy a wonderful conversation on gardening and what got them started. 

Anna:

“Mr. Walter and Ms. Audrey, you all have such a beautiful garden. I always learn a great deal when I come over. How did you get started growing food and what keeps you going?”

A backyard garden flourishing
A backyard garden flourishing under Mr. Walter
and Ms. Audrey's care

Mr. Walter:

“My family is from Georgia. I had 13 brothers and sisters, so growing additional food was quite necessary. My father always had a garden and my mother would preserve food from that garden. I look forward to having a garden every year. You need food to survive.”

Ms. Audrey:

“I am from North Carolina and pretty much everyone has a garden. I freeze the majority of the food grown.”

Anna:

“You have so many vibrant and healthy vegetable plants. What are your favorite plants to grow, and are they difficult to grow here in New England?”

Mr. Walter:

“Collard greens are my favorite to grow. I grow them from seeds. Collard greens tend to grow very well in this area. We get a very good crop every season.”

Anna:

“Do you have any favorite dishes or are there things that you especially like to cook?”

Mr. Walter and Ms. Audrey:

“We make fried collard greens, boiled collards greens, turnip greens, fresh, fried or boiled corn.  We also have okra (love fried okra), tomatoes, green beans, peas, butter beans (lima beans), squash and watermelons.” Edited to add, from Anna: (Their watermelons are absolutely delicious!)

Anna:

“Thank you so much for your time and for showing me your beautiful garden. Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?”

A lot of food can be grown in a small space under the proper conditions
A lot of food can be grown in a small space
under the proper conditions

Mr. Walter:

“You need food to survive. Gardening can help with that.”

Anna:

“Thank you both so much.”

 

Recipe for Fried Collard Greens  via Divas Can Cook

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large smoked turkey leg fully cooked
  • 32 oz. collard greens thoroughly washed and cut into strips.
  • salt & pepper
  • hot sauce

Instructions

  1. In a large deep skillet or pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add in onions and cook until tender.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add chicken broth, red pepper flakes and smoked turkey.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  6. Cover and boil lightly for about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Remove turkey leg and let cool.
  8. Remove meat from bone and cut into bite-size pieces.
  9. Return meat and skin back to the pot.
  10. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  11. Add collard greens to pot, pushing them down if needed.
  12. When greens begin to wilt down, cover and simmer for up to 60 minutes or until your desired texture is reached, stirring occasionally.
  13. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  14. Plate the greens and pour on a few drops of hot sauce.
  15. Serve hot.
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