This following is the first of a series of multimedia content highlighting the liberation work of Black land stewards. BOLD has long been future-dreaming about possibilities for maroon space and exploring the role of land stewardship in shaping Black Futures. In the months ahead, we connect with farmers and advocates who are working to steward, regenerate and deepen their movement practices on reclaimed land, towards liberation.
Life Is A Farm: Sowing the Seeds We Have Planted
Q. How does planting a seed and harvesting its outcome change a person, in your opinion? Impact change?
A. Just being here, that gives us a feeling, a more settled perspective. A very realistic [one], because it’s based on science and science of life. So we can build on that. We can build community. We can build organizations. We can edify ourselves. We can nurture ourselves. We can eat good food. Based on just the fundamental relationship that we are here with our mother.
The more that we collectively in this society…practice things — collectively as well as individually —that remind us of our power, the more we’ll know our power. And that’s completely without any limit.
Q. What brought you to Atlanta and how have you been able to share the gifts that you come with your community?
A. I’m truly a child of the village, so that’s always how I move throughout creation. I don’t know anything else…I actually came to Atlanta in 1994 as a student in the CAU broadcast program. My mother and aunts all went there. So I’m third generation. I was a knucklehead in high school, so that’s the only place I could get in….The students at any of these universities could go to Clark for their junior and senior year to deal with mass communication. So that’s what brought me to Atlanta.
There was a return to Atlanta too, I must say. Cause when we came here in political exile to this country, this is where we came first. So people like John Lewis, you know, and Abel Mabel Thomas, who were still with us in the flesh, and Jose Williams and, and Sue Ross…and they all worked with my mom. That was my foundation.
Later…I had been divorced from the mother of my children. So during that time is when I met Barbara Rashid…I can bear witness that [agriculture was] one of the arts, one of the sciences, one of the gifts that helped to heal my family. My father-in-law was an avid gardener as well; he remembered that from his days as a policeman in Trinidad. And, so again, agriculture steps in to really heal — in very practical ways — relationships.
Eventually… he (Baba Rashid Nuri) asked me to come to Truly Living Well to be the trainer. So that’s when we started with The USDA Beginners Farmers and Ranchers program. The two worlds came together where I could do what I love doing, which is teaching, and love what I always had a distant, but growing and rejuvenating interest in, which is agriculture.
Q. What are some of your practices and is there any traditional knowledge that you apply?
A. Irrigation is big, so I’ve always kind of had that as a central part of my practice. I am always looking to do some waterways. Because Guyana means the land of many waters. So that becomes a technique in many ways, because you’re always thinking about the water flow and how the plants are going to be hydrated and using waste. So that’s something that’s very intriguing.
Q. I mean, you taught me it’s best to plant during the full moon.
A. Sewing seeds on a certain type of moon. You know, like on the dark moon is when you’re on the [low tide], so certain things affect the way you pick certain things…Seeds, just like our bodies, have a huge percentage of water. So everything works together. It’s all the same when the moon controls all that. And so then it’s the opposite for the waning moon.
When you plant a seed, visualize that seed in its fullness. If I’m planting pak choy: visualize my family at the dinner table eating that juicy pak choy or a big bunch of it. See the fullness, start with the end in mind. Life is a farm, you know? It’s a huge part of farming, to keep that visualization. And in the same breath, to be at peace. It may seem almost ironic or paradoxical, but you hold a clear meditation, and then let it go.
Q. To you, how else can farming be a metaphor for life?
A. My mama always told me that you reap what is a universal law, that the world … will not grow unless you cultivate. You got to see the victory coming out of the gate. As we develop more knowledge, the more intentional we are about what we are doing. So whatever you put in is what you’re gonna get out, you know? The fundamental principles of agriculture are congruent, are parallel; they are the same as the fundamental principles of the cultivation of the human experience…Think about the things we do that make life important: cultivate, harvest, repeat.