Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

I received this book in the mail about six hours ago as a gift from my dear friend, Debi. I read it about three hours ago, and now I have to share it with all of you because it’s just so wonderful. In just 102 pages, this book packs so much love and inspiration and awesomeness that I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before now. I’m surprised it’s not better known. Maybe it is and I’ve just been left out of the loop!

A young girl named Kim decides one day to plant some beans in a lot in her neighborhood that is full of trash, old furniture, debris and just junk. She does it as an homage to her deceased Vietnamese father who she never knew. Kim lives in a neighborhood that is not the best of neighborhoods, but it has one thing going for it – it’s culturally diverse. Unfortunately, no one takes the time to get to know one another. A woman sees Kim planting her beans but thinks she’s up to know good…until she goes down to investigate and finds not drugs or weapons, but bean sprouts! Which leads her to clean her own space in the lot and start her own garden with the help of a neighbor.

Soon, we see the lot transformed from a junk heap into a garden ripe with vegetables and flowers and fruits. And in doing this, a community begins to form as well. People who can’t even speak English can at least communicate by sharing their gardens with each other, the fruits of their labor. All races come together here. And each chapter is told from the perspective of a different person in the community. We get a different tale with each chapter.

This book is such a little gift. It truly is. It’s something that can easily be read in one sitting and something that I can see reading again and again. In the afterword of the book, Fleischman says he was inspired to write this book by an article he read in a journal about a psychotherapist that does counseling through gardening and I thought that that was just so wonderful. Gardening truly can be so therapeutic. Especially community gardening like this where it brings people together. I’m actually reading an article right now in a new magazine called Urban Farm (awesome magazine, check it out next time you’re at B&N) about gardening increasing people’s mental health and it’s been shown that gardening increases people’s happiness. I know it’s helped me quite a bit…especially with the summer funks I tend to get in.

I wish we had community gardens down here in New Orleans. We do have a lot of community building events down here and I think that as a community, New Orleanians are pretty tight…but we could always use more. Seedfolks is a prime example, in my opinion, of why every neighborhood should have a community garden. It not only provides nutrition and economical benefits to families, but it truly brings people together. I know my neighborhood has changed so much just since I was a kid. Everyone used to talk to each other when I was a kid. Now, no one does. And I hear this more and more from other people. When did we stop interacting with each other? And how much fun would it be to start interacting again….over veggies? πŸ™‚

Anyway, I’m off my high horse now…here’s what I’ll leave you with…GO READ SEEDFOLKS!!! In fact, don’t even get this one from the library…buy it. It’s only $5.99 and it’s one you’ll read over and over again. And it’s such an inspiration. You’ll want to own it. And no, I wasn’t asked to review this one :p These are just my own feelings about the book.

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13 Responses

  1. I read a Fleischman book last year (Graven Images) and really enjoyed it. Hvae to keep an eye out for this one!

  2. awwwww..leave it to Debi to find that book and send it to you! a perfect fit, what with your garden and all! If I think about it, I believe I started a garden (when my kids were really small) because of see the little old Italian man across the street sitting each day and watching his garden grow.. yup.. i’m sure that’s how I started my first garden!

  3. Okay wow. That sounds brilliant! And you’re right – it’s surprising that this book isn’t more well known, if it’s as awesome as your review makes it sound. πŸ™‚

  4. I should have read your blog before I emailed you. πŸ˜€ I’m so glad you loved this little gem, too!!! And as you’ll see when you read my email, that article in Urban Farm totally made me think of this book, too. Didn’t you just love Leona–the woman who carried the bag of garbage into the Public Health Department?

  5. Sounds like a very nice book. I personally can’t imagine ever having anything to do with a garden, at least not in Texas, but I know how other people connect with that a lot. πŸ™‚

  6. Wow this is right up my alley!!! I will definitely check this one out.

  7. You’ve totally convinced me on this one!

  8. Have you heard of the guerilla gardening movement? There’s a good page at http://www.guerrillagardening.org/. Basically, they just go around to empty places, or stretches of ugly public space, and clean it up and plant things – it’s technically illegal, but usually people don’t mind. One of the things they do, I know, is go around and plant pansies in every place where a homophobic hate crime has been reported (pansies, get it?), as a way to raise awareness.

    Also interesting, in Los Angeles, many of the parks and public spaces have fruit trees, and there is a movement there called Fallen Fruit (http://www.fallenfruit.org/) that encourages people to go and harvest the fruit and use it – most people don’t think it’s legal, so they avoid the trees, but it’s actually public fruit, and the city has apparently ok’d it. They post a whole map of the city, showing places where publicly owned fruits and veggies can be found on their site, and I believe are trying to expand it to other areas. I believe in Oakland they have a similar project, only they get permission to plant fruits and veggies on purpose, then distribute them communally to people in need, and such.

  9. Wow, that sounds like a great book! I’d heard the title before but didn’t know what it was about. I’m going to look for it.

  10. Darren, I’d love to read more of his stuff…I have GOT to look out for that one!!

    Deslily, That is such a great story πŸ˜€ That makes me super happy πŸ˜€ Reminds me a lot of this story, actually. I think you would really like this book quite a bit!! It’s a great one.

    Court, It was totally a great one. I wish it were better known, but it really doesn’t sound like it is 😦

    Debi, I’m about to email you back now that I finally have the internet again!! I wanted to email you so bad about this one last night! Leona was awesome πŸ™‚ That put such a smile on my face. And the Lemon Lady!! She’s so awesome!

    Amanda, I think that if I were gardening in Texas I would just get very frustrated :p I know I get frustrated as it is in Louisiana, lol. But this was just such a good book. I think you’d like it a lot just with all of the cultural stuff in it.

    Beth, It’s totally up your alley! It screams Beth Fish πŸ˜€

    Lu, Yay \o/ I love convincing people about awesome books πŸ˜€

    Jason, No!! I hadn’t heard about either one of those, but they both make me ridiculously happy πŸ˜€ Thank you so much for sharing them with me!! I had a friend who went all over the city after Katrina and started throwing sunflower seeds wherever it was known that people had died or wherever there was mass piles of debris…basically, wherever there was ugliness. Then she started leaving handmade packets of sunflower seeds in public places in baskets for people to plant. Eventually, the local media started covering how there were sunflowers popping up all over the city and how it must be a “sign from god”…it kind of made me sick, but it put a smile on my face at the same time.

    Jeane, I think you’d totally love this one. I actually thought about you while I was reading this one. It’s right up your alley πŸ™‚

  11. Man… I can’t tell whether to laugh or cry… that’s so sad. That’s the trouble with religion sometimes, it feels like we can’t ever appreciate each other on our own, just as extensions of God, you know?

  12. This sounds wonderful! Right my alley, ya know!

  13. Sold! πŸ˜€

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