In collaboration with the Evansville African American Museum, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Lincoln School, Legacy Taste of the Garden, and Memorial Community Development Program, Urban Seeds is a proud partner and sponsor of the new Book n’ Cook initiative.
Begun in September of 2020, EAAM and EVPL invited Urban Seeds to facilitate the Cook portion of the Book n’ Cook program, as part of their 3-month outreach to encourage shared family reading time. The project incorporated a month of fiction reading, a month of picture books, and a month of non-fiction reading, all with a focus on the Black experience and rich history of farming and homesteading, including the deep connective roots to African culture. October’s books were geared to children and we chose Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis. Edna Lewis is a well known Black chef and food justice advocate, who encourages children to engage in gardening and cooking at age-appropriate levels, all the while weaving stories of her childhood with her sharecropper parents in the south. Urban Seeds donated a mixing bowl, a baking dish, and a hot mitt to each 3rd – 5th grade student participate, as well as all the ingredients. The story book had been read in a live-stream event the week prior, a copy of which was also included in the cooking kit and funded through the EAAM.Using locally grown apples from Engelbrecht’s Countryside Orchard, we made the apple crisp recipe from the book. Denise and Paula of the Legacy Garden, whose family started the first and longest standing Black owned homestead and farm, led the students in the cooking, weaving in wonderful cultural and farming/gardening related information. The children were enchanted, and oh-so-proud when they shared photos of their apple crisp!
In honor of Black History Month, we partnered again to make another recipe from this marvelous book — a corn pudding. Once again, the book was funded, this time by EVPL, and Urban Seeds supplied the cooking kit and ingredients. Denise and Paula again facilitated the cooking portion, sharing rich tales of their childhood running and playing in the cornfields.
We are exploring funding options so that year’s harvest season, roughly June – October, we will be able to do a monthly Book n’ Cook event. Combining literacy with autonomy in the kitchen all the while connecting children to how food is grown and prepared is a wonderful opportunity!