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Exploring Collards: Unearthing the Rich History, Nutrient Density, and Community Connection

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Food has a remarkable ability to bring people together, fostering connections, and creating shared experiences. In a recent workshop on collard greens, we had the pleasure of learning about their complex history, appreciating their heartiness and nutrient density, and discovering the power of community connection through the joy of eating together. This blog post takes you on a journey through The Palenke Experience: Collard Greens from Seed to Spoon workshop, celebrating the knowledge shared by Natalie Justin and Solara Goldwin, and the meaningful connections formed during the event.

Unleashing the Power of Collards for climate adaptation

Collard greens have a fascinating and often overlooked history that spans different cultures and communities. We explored the roots of collards, tracing their origins and how they have become a staple in various culinary traditions. Our facilitators Solara and Natalie also spoke to the significance of collards in the African diaspora and their journey through generations to the Americas in the braids of ancestors, serving as a symbol of resilience and cultural identity. In addition, we talked about the close relations of African descendants in the Diaspora and Indigenous peoples in the Americas, as they have historically shared and exchanged seeds, fostering cultural exchange, resilience, and a commitment to sustainable agriculture.

On the menu was a hibiscus flower drink, Callaloo collard greens, a curry dahl - with the intervention of our Program participant Tameeza - roti, Stir It Up pickled mango, and home made hot sauce. In the kitchen, flavours become a language of their own, conveying stories, relationships, emotions, and memories.

Collard greens are not only flavorful but also highly nutritious. We made a point to dive into the climate adaptation of collards, and their cold tolerance - making them a hearty, thriving crop for Victoria’s ever warming yet cool climate. We discussed the nutrient profile of collards, highlighting their exceptional health benefits and exploring the reasons behind their reputation as a superfood. We learned about the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that make collards an excellent addition to any diet, promoting overall well-being and vitality.

Cultivating Land-Based Connections: From Farm to Kitchen

Food has the incredible ability to bridge gaps and bring people together. The Palenke Experience: Collard Greens from Seed to Spoon workshop, we learned how the workshop created a space for individuals to come together, share stories, and celebrate diversity through the language of the land- truly celebrating the significance of community connection. We uplifted the power of communal cooking and the joy of breaking bread as a care practice!

Understanding the journey of collard greens from the farm to the kitchen is essential for appreciating their true essence. We dove into the importance of sustainable farming practices, highlighting the connection between the land, the farmers, and how the food is prepared with care and love. Explore the workshop's emphasis on supporting local food growers and the significance of knowing where our food comes from.

A Big, Happy Family: Embracing Inclusion and Togetherness

The Palenke Experience: Collard Greens from Seed to Spoon workshop fostered a sense of belonging and community, making everyone feel like part of a big, happy family. We felt the magic that happens when people come together to learn, share, and celebrate food. The workshop's intimate environment created a joyous impact on participants, reminding us of the power of shared experiences and the importance of creating spaces that welcome all.

The Palenke Experience: Collard Greens from Seed to Spoon workshop is a living artifact, a testament to the power of food in awakening our ancestral memory, fostering connections, celebrating diversity, and sparking a sense of community. Through the lens of collard greens, we learned about their rich history, nutrient density, and were reminded of the joy of eating good food together.

Let this blog post serve as a reminder of the importance of honouring the unique experiences and perspectives of different communities, and the transformative power of food as a language that transcends boundaries.

Photo + video credit: Mohanned Ghadban


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