Friday, April 24, 2009

Growing a Community

My family has been eating the earliest lettuces and pea shoots and lemon balm from our little garden, eagerly awaiting a few more days of warmth so we can put in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and a "three sisters garden" with corn and winter squash and drying beans.

While we wait, we have been entertaining ourselves with a beautiful book by Paul Fleischman called Seedfolks.

When a young immigrant child plants a few lima beans in an abandoned lot in her poor neighborhood in Cleveland, she starts to bring to life not only a few plants but an entire community. Soon, a great diversity of neighbors--young and old, male and female, disabled and not, and of many ethnic and linguistic groups--come together and reclaim the land, build their sense of being part of a collective, and develop pride in themselves as individuals and faith in their own capability. Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, Jews, and African Americans (among may others) grow in this community garden.

The story is presented in vignettes told by individual characters. They are moving, inspiring, meaningful for listeners from young to old. They are simple tales, but nevertheless, they left me close to joyful tears, over and over again.

We listened to the unabridged audiobook--a fantastic production, lasting about 90 minutes and using different readers for each character's story. The readers are of different ages and ethnicities themselves, giving the audio an immediacy and veracity that is highly compelling.

One of the things I love about this book is its inspiring message that when one person--even a child--does something with great love and hope, that act can ripple out to make huge change, far beyond anything imagined originally.

May we plant our seeds, tend our gardens, and watch them grow.


The Tell-Tale Heart said...

Thanks for a lovely post. I too highly recommend the book and audio version.

L'chaim - To life!

Green Bean said...

That sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you for the recommendation.

Audrey said...

I'm so glad you mentioned that book -- I read it several years. My office, when I was the gifted program coordinator for our school district, was tucked in a corner of our middle school library and I happened to come across this book one day. I LOVED it, but I had forgotten about it until you reminded me. THANKS!

Truffula Mama said...

Thanks so much for this recommendation. With a third-grader, farming/gardening is on our agenda! This sounds - no pun intended - like a great addition to slip in. I looked it up, and our library has it. Guess where I'm headed tomorrow? :-)

Writing this with a batch of freshly-harvested lemon balm tea [with raw, local honey :-) ] at my side (though out of spill distance from my computer...)...


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