By Dennis Moore & Caroline Umana, Slow Food Baltimore
Slow Food Baltimore’s second event of the year celebrating Juneteenth was held on June 18, 2022. We partnered with Farmer Chippy’s Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm, a Black-owned urban farm in Baltimore. His organic produce is grown onsite and is reasonably priced. You fill a bag with produce and pay whatever you can donate. They also sell Caribbean food (like doubles and salmon fish pies and drinks such as Sorghum and honey lemonade) and have cooking demonstrations by an African American local dietician.
Our chapter honored Juneteenth by bringing healthy, African American and Southern-inspired fare that traditionally is shared on the holiday. We had a delicious spread including two types of cornbread (one of them gluten free, the other made with coarser cornmeal), pecan mini tarts and baked sweet potato fries. We also prepared two recipes from African American food writer & historian Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: honey-soy glazed baked chicken wings and black-eyed pea fritter appetizers with a hot chili dipping sauce. And in keeping with the Juneteenth tradition of drinking red drinks, we prepared a watermelon agua fresca, which was a fitting summertime refreshment!
We offered our food and beverages to the crowd and had a display of healthy Southern cookbooks written predominantly by Black chefs. These cookbooks emphasized more plant-based recipes and gave lighter, modern takes on Southern dishes. We also had a garden crafting activity for kids where the neighborhood kids painted pots and then planted a vegetable seedling that they got to take home. Everything from Slow Food Baltimore was free of charge. It was important for us to have an event that celebrates this important holiday.
We learned so much about Juneteenth in organizing this event. For the majority of the event, the mood was loud and raucous. But then with a break from the party music, Farmer Chippy introduced SFB’s social justice chair Dennis Moore, who reminded folks of the Slow Food goals to promote Good, Clean and Fair food for all. He then gave a presentation on a book that we had chosen to read for our Book Club, On Juneteenth by Pulitzer-prize winning author Annette Gordon-Reed. He spoke about what the day Juneteenth is and how and where it got started in Texas. Dennis also talked about his visit to Selma, Alabama during the summer of 2021, to the Edmund Pettis bridge and the significance of John Lewis and others who marched for voter’s rights. When Dennis spoke, everyone grew quiet listening. It was a somber reminder of the civil rights struggle of the African American people in America and how hard the road to equality and freedom was and still is.
The event was attended by over a hundred people, mostly from the Park Heights neighborhood, but folks from St. Vincent’s church and other Slow Food Baltimore friends also came out as well. It was a wildly terrific event! Farmer Chippy is a mentor to young Black farmers and an inspiration to us. We were happy to give Farmer Chippy a Mantis tiller/cultivator to use on his farm and a donation to help support his cause of continuing to provide good, clean and fair food to the Park Heights area.