Reconnecting with Family History Through Food

Today is International Women’s Day, a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Beyond that, this year’s theme for this day is #BeBoldForChange, something we at The Nashville Food Project work towards every day using the power of good food.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating one of the incredible women we work with in our community gardens. Ifeoma Scott and her husband have been growing in our Wedgewood Neighbors Garden since last year after hearing about it from their friends Jay and former Meals Assistant Makisha, or Kiki as Ifeoma calls her, at Mt. Zion Church.

 Ifeoma and her husband

Ifeoma and her husband

Ifeoma had long been a container gardener, but she wanted a chance to grow in the ground, directly in the dirt. Beyond that, she wanted to be active with other gardeners. “Because of where I live - it’s an urban area - I don’t have the chance to interact with many gardeners. This was my first time interacting with other gardeners besides my uncle who lives in Illinois. It was really important for me to get involved and to see how others grew their food.”

The comradery of growing food was extremely important to Ifeoma. For her, growing food is a family affair so personal connection and gardening go hand in hand. Her great grandfathers were farmers - in Mississippi and Arkansas, and her fraternal grandfather grew plots in his backyard in Illinois, practicing urban gardening before we even had the term.

“For me, it’s not only sustainability, but it’s part of my history. I wish I had [my grandfathers] to ask them questions…Farming is a hard job, but my great grandfather [who farmed in Mississippi] made it look so easy.”

Ifeoma has loved learning more about her family and herself in the garden. “I get to learn, see, be patient. I’ve never been a patient person until I started gardening, but I can’t just make something grow. I have to be patient.”

Since growing in the Wedgewood Neighbors Garden, Ifeoma has reignited a curiosity about all the small things that come together to grow food. “I get excited about seeing animals and things in the garden - insects and worms - and how that really helps the garden and how it functions,” she tells us. Always looking to learn, Ifeoma has become most interested in growing heirloom varieties, and she’s challenged herself to successfully grow lettuce for the first time this year.

She’s also learned about other cultures growing alongside refugee gardeners from Bhutan and Burma. In college, Ifeoma studied international business so she’s always been interested in other cultures, but in the garden she’s had the opportunity to see it all first-hand. “I just like seeing how different people garden and seeing the different plots. How they’re using natural structures to trellis. That type of thing excites me - seeing how people do it differently.”

Ifeoma has enjoyed creating a sustainable food source for herself, her husband and their friends. Now she’s learning to compost and hopes to take on canning next so she can continue to share her garden-grown food with her friends and family.

She says it’s important for people to understand where their food comes from. It can be easy to take for granted the time and effort that so many people put into producing our food.

“You don’t realize how important food is, and people who give their lives to do this. To farm. To give us the food we have on our tables. It means so much more than just putting things in the dirt. It’s the history of my family and what I’ll do for my children someday.”

Want to keep in touch with Ifeoma and what she's growing? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Yepshegrewit.