Henry, one of our gardeners has graciously let us interview him about why he is a part of this community garden project. His brother and he are both involved in our garden project and Henry has offered to be our garden coordinator for the 2011-2012 growing season!
A Brief Background about Henry: His family is originally from Monrovia, Liberia and he has lived here in Minnesota for 1 year and 2 months. He speaks three languages: English, French and Gio. And as a current student at the International Institute, Henry has plans to continue his education and attend college here locally in Minnesota.
The following is the interview conducted by Katherine, one of our Community Garden Organizers with Henry (whose responses have been transcribed).
Why did you want to be involved with this garden project?
Henry: Because from my experience of farming, “I love making gardens…love to grow some fresh natural food on own.”
How is gardening here in Minnesota different from gardening/farming in Liberia?
Henry: In Minnesota: “The soil is soft, rich for weather, for climate. Fruits grow faster when good rain.”
And in Liberia: “In Africa, the soil is hard, difficult for things to grow up, with lots of sunshine. There are two seasons in Liberia: dry season, which is summer, which lasts six months, and rainy season which also lasts six months.”
What has been a struggle that you have had while living here in MN?
Henry: “I came across things first time to do…need someone to show me…bus routes, missing the bus…being careful of things that not cause trouble.”
What is your favorite vegetable to grow and eat?
Henry: “Cassava and potatoes. Cassava grows underground…is used for starch for clothes and to make native food, fu-fu [pronounced foo-foo]. You can eat the leaves too [of the cassava]. [To make fu-fu] You pick it, let it decay for three days in water, beat it and cook it until soft.”
What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with this garden project?
Henry: “I feel happy growing this garden. It reminds me of a little back home. Making good food. Its actually amazing when passing the garden, it reminds me of our little farm back home. We had a family farm, with grandma and children making farms during the dry season then plant, with raining. Early in dry season, you harvest crops.”
What are some common foods eaten by your family or in your ethnic group?
Henry: “Corn. When you brought corn, we just put in everything. Plenty, its like a banana but bigger, very long, but different from a banana.”
What has been most challenging about gardening here in Minnesota?
Henry: “Not really been…everything’s available….seeds, water. Maybe that the garden is not large enough.”
And finally, any last thoughts??
Henry: “I’d like to thank your organization for giving my family the initiative of making gardens and growing fresh food. It brings minds back of what used to do…makes us remember good past as being farmers.”
We are grateful for Henry for this interview. Thank you Henry for sharing your story and for agreeing to be next year’s Garden Coordinator!