• Bryan Ibrafall Wright

5 Fall Crops My African-American Ancestors Would Have Grown....

Updated: Sep 12


I find it to be quite interesting that when most people think of gardening, they associate gardening with the warm weather of spring and summer. The long hours of sunlight and warm temperatures are optimal for growing pollinated crops that we usually associate with the spring and summer. Picking fresh berries, biting into an ear of corn just harvested, and the sweetness of juicy plums are some of the immediate thoughts that come to me when thinking of gardening in the summer.

Spring and summer gardens offer their bounties and lead into the fall.


Fall gardens are also bountiful, but in the fall most growing locations in America you will not be given the same amount of sunlight and your temperatures will become cooler. For many gardeners the cold temperatures and shortened hours of sunlight denotes the end of the growing season. Most people are not depending on their garden to feed them unlike our ancestors. For the vast majority of human history people had to grow, raise, and hunt the food that they ate. The notion of being self-sustainable and doing for self was absolutely necessary for survival


For Black Folks living in America survival is a constant thought running though our minds. Our ancestors lives were even more in tuned with subsistence living. Subsistence meant that the preoccupation with food was primary task that had to be undertaken, thus making it necessary to procure food on an daily basis regardless of the season. During the fall our African American Ancestors would plant crops that not only had a high nutrient density, but also had a long shelf life. Below I would like to share with you 5 crops that our African American Ancestors would have planted in their fall gardens.


Purple Top Turnips


Photo Courtesy of Medical News Today


Turnip (Brassica rapa) Greens are a still staple of in Soul Food Cuisine. Turnips are a great source of:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin K

  • Calcium

  • Copper

  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Manganese

  • Omega-3

  • Potassium

  • Protein


The turnip can grow in most soils and is ready to harvest in just 60 days and the leaves in as little as 14 days. Turnips are also easy to store for long-term food storage purposes. Both the root and the leaves of the plant were eaten. The majority of the foods that our ancestors ate served numerous purposes. In growing up the elders would leave the turnip roots in the ground during the winter months and harvest them as needed. Turnips where also used as a feed for livestock. Our ancestors had many reasons for growing this amazing plant. Turnips are considered a Superfood.


Cabbage


Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea Var. capitata) is yet another crop that is still a staple of the diets of African People people globally. Cabbage can be found in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Cabbage has is a staple food in all parts of the world that African people were enslaved. Cabbage is another filling leafy green that is versatile due to the numerous areas that it is able to grow. Cabbage is also a great crop for storage in the cool months. Cabbage can be found in many colors, and researchers are now confirming that colorful foods are more healthy containing more antioxidants. Cabbage also contains:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin K

  • Iron

  • Calcium

  • Fiber

  • Folate

  • Magnesium

  • Manganese

  • Potassium

  • Protein

Cabbage is considered to be a Superfood due to its high nutrient density.



Fall Squash

Winter Squash vary greatly, and thus fit into many classification due the vast varieties of the Fall Squash. The varieties vary regionally depending on the growing zone. Regardless of the zone Winter Squash varieties that were grown by our African Ancestors were a staple seasonal crop. Winter Squashes are high sources of fiber, vitamins, and mineral, plus they stick to your stomach. The sweetness of Winter Squash allows it to be used as a pie filling or a sweet treat. Most Winter Squash varieties maintain a long shelf life making them a great for long term food storage. Many of the popular Winter Squash varieties are: Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn, Kuri, Kabocha, Hubbard, Delicata, Winter Squash. I will also add pumpkins in the squash category.



Sweet Potato




When I think about the Fall and Winter seasons and a dessert my mind is drawn to the delicious Sweet Potato Pies that my Grandmama B and Grandmama Tine used to cook or the Sweet Potatoes my mother made with meals. Although both of my grandmothers passed their knowledge and love they gave to me, I try to share with you all on every opportunity. I remember being a boy and helping my family members clean Sweet Potatoes that had finished curing and were ready to be cooked. We ate Sweet Potatoes in pies, boiled, baked, and sometimes raw. My grandfather used to tell me that his mother, my Great Grandmother Ola would make Sweet Potato Cobblers. Sweet Potatoes remain one of my favorite foods.


In reading about the diet of those who were enslaved I read about the people eating Sweet Potato leaves and I thought that they were ate out of desperation. Oh was a wrong, the leave are very tasty and nutrient dense. Due the pigment of the root it is high in Antioxidants. Sweet Potatoes are rich in:




  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B6

  • Vitamin C

  • Copper

  • Manganese

  • Potassium

  • Fiber

  • Niacin

  • Pantothenic Acid

  • Protein

Sweet Potatoes are generally grown from rooted leaf portions that have grown from the plant called slips. The harvest time of the potato takes up to a minimal of 3-4 months but while you wait be sure to take full advantage of the leaves that when cooked taste like spinach. Sweet Potatoes are also considered to so nutrient dense that they are considered a Superfood.






Collard Greens



Collard Greens are another plant in the family of Brassicas that is still a staple of Soul Food and the traditional diet of African-American. Collard Greens are very hardy plants that can withstand both harsh Winters and hot Summers. Collard Greens are biannual plants that produce very large yields in a small space. Collard Greens contain:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

  • Fiber

  • Folate

  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Phosphorus

  • Potassium

  • Protein

  • Zinc

Collard Greens are considered to be a Superfood.











 

Subscribe Form

PO BOX 69 Oklahoma City, OK 73101

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

©2019 by Council of Urban Development