Fieldhands and Foodways

2011 Annual Report for YENC10-034

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2010: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Manager:
Venice Williams
Center for Resilient Cities

Fieldhands and Foodways


A. June 20 thru July 29, 2011, Thursday mornings and early afternoon, 4th grade students (15-20 students each week) and 5th grade students (15-20 students each week) from Brown Street Academy participated in the Fieldhands and Foodways project, growing a variety of “cultural crops,” and studying their roots and origins. They also were engaged in the culinary aspect of the program, preparing traditional dishes using some of the same foodstuffs they were growing, in addition to other food. They were instructed by Fatuma Emmad, Venice Williams, and African American Chef Shalanna Wright. The cast-iron cooking supplies were purchased and used in the project, as supported by the grant. These same students also studied the stories and history of slavery, Black Indians, and Caroline Quarlls and the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin. They visited the Kenosha Civil War Museum, as indicated in the grant proposal.

B. Undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and students in the Garden Mosaics Earn and Learn project at Alice’s Garden, interviewed and gathered stories of African American men and women who arrived in Milwaukee during The Great Migration.

C. We have learned that the community is eager to participate in and “hungry” for the agricultural programming we provide, grounded in the history of people of color and their relationship to land and food. This project will continue down the path of educating participants on the cultural uses of plants and demonstrating such usage through the cultivation of plant material. We have also learned there is a huge educational gap in the full understanding of the agricultural and culinary traditions Africans brought with them throughout the Diaspora. We plan to work with more educational institutions and community organizations in an effort to close that gap!

A. The Fieldhands and Foodways Project sponsored The Underground Railroad Comes Alive! A Conversation with Kimberly Simmons The Great, Great, Great, Granddaughter
of Caroline Quarlls Watkin, November14-18, 2011. We brought Ms. Simmons in from Detroit, Michigan to share the story of her ancestor, discuss land and freedom, and to highlight the connection of the Underground Railroad to Alice’s Garden. Venues were:

Young Leaders Academy: 63 7th and 8th grade students and 3 educators participated
Brown Street Academy: 183 3rd, 4th & 5th Grade students and fifteen educators participated
Home of Bruce and Gloria Wright: 12 Alice’s Garden gardeners attended
Women’s Luncheon Anaba Tea Room: 12 local politicians, Milwaukee Public Schools administrators, and community activists attended
Community Reception, Brown Street Academy: 22 attendees
Samuel Clemens Elementary School: 167 3rd, 4th, 5th grade students, 10 educators and 15 parents attended St. Joan Antida High School Afterschool Program: 13 students and 2 educators attended

B. Excerpts from the Great Migration stories were published in the Washington Park Beat, neighborhood newspaper this past winter. The newspaper has a circulation of 5,000.

C. The new, physical garden layout for the Fieldhands and Foodways project will be completed this spring. Last summer, the demonstration areas completed were the Master’s Kitchen Garden section and the Slave Huckpatch (allotment garden plot). Both areas demonstrate the vegetation that would have been grown in such gardens. Alice’s Garden staff explained the history associated with the gardens and the food produced there. These areas were open on a daily basis, Monday thru Friday, July through October. Accurate numbers were not kept. We will do better at keeping records in this program area this season. An estimated number of 230 to 300 people learned about these gardens during the months indicated.

A. The first Great Migration booklet will be printed and introduced to the community at the Alice’s Garden Juneteenth Day Celebration. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. With the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

B. The cooking demonstrations continue with an open community program called, FIELDHANDS AND FOODWAYS IRON POTS AND WOODEN SPOONS: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking, Mondays, June 18 thru August 13, 11am to 1:00pm. Cajun, Creole, and Caribbean dishes all have their roots in the cooking of West and Central Africa. The peanuts, sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, plantains, and chile pepper that star in the cusines of New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and Brazil (to name a few), are as important in the Old World as they are in the New World. We will bring to life some of the recipes gathered by esteemed culinary historian and cookbook author Jessica Harris, as we trace the ways African food has migrated and transformed the way we eat!

C. Students from Brown Street Academy will continue to be engaged in agricultural and culinary projects at Alice’s Garden. In addition, they will participate in the FIELDHANDS AND FOODWAYS PROJECT AFRICAN DRUMMING CLASSES With Lucky Diop! Wednesdays, 10:00am to 11:00am, June 20 thru August 1 (no class on July 4). The drum is perhaps the oldest musical instrument in the world, with every society employing it in varying degrees. However, it is most revered among the people of Africa, where it comes in various forms and fulfills many functions. The drum is the most important musical instrument in Africa. No doubt, the most famous drum of African origin is the djembe, a goatskin-covered percussion instrument shaped like a large goblet made to be played with bare hands. Lucky Diop, in the magical setting of Alice’s Garden, will teach the heart and soul of drumming. Born in Ziguinchor, Senegal, Lucky became familiar with the people of the Milwaukee area through his work with children and organizations that support our youth.

D. Students from the Young Leaders Academy and Samuel Clemens Elementary School will be taken to the Kenosha Civil War Museum this spring as a follow-up from the Kimberly Simmons visit in November.


Fatuma Emmad

Lead Educator
Alice's Garden
2136 N. 21st St.
Milwaukee, WI 53205
Office Phone: 4146870122