Freedom Gardens In The Age of COVID

by Gail Wells 

This current COVID -19 pandemic has revealed inherent inequities in our current food systems that requires a reworking and reimagining of the cultural assumptions that undergird capitalism, democracy, our relationship with land/mother nature and the way we build community.  The crisis can be a blessing in disguise because in an effort to save ourselves is an opportunity to start anew. If we can recreate indigenous ways of knowing and being we can bring ourselves in balance with the universe and nature.

Our food and herbs were grown and cooked to heal and nourish our bodies and minds…hence the name “Soul Food.” We believed growing our own food was a long-term sustainable solution to improving our health, increasing wellbeing and creating a sustainable and responsive community. We worked the land for our benefit and we are seeking to do that again! 

Most if not all African Americans have roots in the south. My ancestors were forced to work Mississippi land. And like many, my family fled Mississippi during the Great Migration and traveled north to find employment and a better life. My grandparents took their knowledge of farming and being self-sufficient with them. My grandma, Nana, taught me how to garden, using pots that she put outside on our Harlem fire escape. 

   Together we can  to sustain health, wellbeing, connection and beauty! The Freedom Garden initiative builds on African American cultural strengths, our desire to be free and our quest for self-reliance. Please email Gail V. Wells at to share your great migration story and why a freedom garden is meaningful to you. All stories will be shared on the Buffalo Freedom Garden and Food for The Spirit website.