The Freedom Garden Concept Rooted in History

By Gail V. Wells

The Freedom Garden logo was designed by Buffalo local, Edreys Wajed, a Buffalo Freedom Wall artist, a creative, poet, playwright, graphic artist and SUNY Buffalo State graduate to inspire self-reliance and independence by taking agricultural images and placing them in an African centered framework. 

Liberation Imagery 

Liberation is defined as the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery or oppression. For a Freedom Gardener liberation is an act of self-determination; freeing one’s self from another’s control by sowing the seeds of resilience through self-reliance. The African Shield was used in African society as a means of protection during warfare, in ceremonies it was a symbol of strength and when JuJu was added to the shield with images, prayers and herbs it provided supernatural powers to the individual welding the shield in battle or facing incredible odds. In South Africa the shield was identified with Shaka Zulu, who established the Zulu empire and revolutionized warfare in the early nineteenth century. The symbol of Shaka’s military success was the iconic Zulu shield and spear!  Nutritious food shields the body from disease. It is our modern day “JUJU”!

The border design on the shield replicates mud cloth which was worn by Malian hunters as camouflage, ritual protection and a badge of status. It is called mud cloth because of the dying process used to paint intricate designs on strips of cotton cloth. These designs ensured a successful hunt and protected the hunter!

Agricultural Imagery

The shield in the Freedom Garden logo is shaped like the top of a garden shovel and the top of the spear is shaped like a garden trowel. Both are essential gardening tools that are used to plant by breaking up the soil. The three essential elements for a successful crop is present in the design: Water, Soil and the Sun! The rows of crops resemble African corn rolls or braids that contained seeds for planting. The city scape represents urban gardening. The practice of growing requires specific tools, knowledge and physical conditions. Gardening requires patience, diligence, manual labor, spiritual awareness, knowledge and understanding of gardening principles and commitment. These skill sets are life perpetuating!

“What makes Freedom Gardens Unique”

The Freedom Garden concept is rooted in Buffalo history. Buffalo and Niagara Falls was a major stop on the Underground Railroad due to its proximity to Canada. The Niagara Movement was the precursor for the modern civil rights movement and was organized by W.E.B. Dubois and William Monroe Trotter in 1905.  The Niagara “movement” claimed that “the Negro” was entitled to every single right that belonged to a freeborn American and that those rights included justice and equality. Buffalo and Niagara Falls became a magnet for those seeking freedom and many progressive luminaries and FREEDM FIGHTERS made the state of New York and Buffalo their home (Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, William Wells Brown, and Mary Talbert).

The Freedom Garden Concept is Simple!

Freedom Gardeners grow nutritious food with the knowledge that fresh fruits and vegetables is the foundation for health and wellbeing. The act of growing one’s own food is a step towards healing, liberation and resilience. Having a Freedom garden is a proactive approach to regenerative community development that undergirds economic stability and social justice! “We grow to support ourselves, control our destiny and provide for our families while building a healing community that is healthy and well.”

Interested in volunteering or receiving Non GMO organic seeds?

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