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A Student Reflection on Food and Culture at the Communities Conference

Communities Conference, Rollins College, January 26, 2017

This is one in a series of curated student posts from a class taught by Dr. Amy Parziale.

This Spring, the Rollins Department of English course “Women Write the Body” examined female authors and their depiction of embodiment. The first major author read for class was Zora Neale Hurston. Thanks to serendipitous timing, students were asked to extend their knowledge outside the classroom by blogging about their experiences attending the Communities Conference co-sponsored by Rollins and Association to Preserve Eatonville Community (P.E.C.).

Amy Parziale
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of English, Rollins College


“…it all comes together in the buttermilk biscuits.”


Morgan Colley

Have you ever grown produce in a garden? Or a community garden? Or better yet a garden that feeds hundreds of people? In the small town of Eatonville, FL, there is a Yard and Gardens Club that was started on the mission of providing their town with fresh fruits and vegetables, but also a place to grow strong community roots that would last longer than one growing season.

On Thursday, January 26th, the ZORA! Festival began at Rollins College and I was able to attend the session about the Yards and Gardens Club, which was started about five years ago in Eatonville. This club began with the intent to create a place of community building and engagement between members of Eatonville, but it has grown to be much more than that. Currently, the club has four garden beds that are run by local chefs Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Cunningham and Mrs. Darleen, all of whom are known for their amazing cooking. The club meets on the second Monday of every month to discuss updates on the gardens and to be advised by ZORA on what to grow for the community and how to improve gardening methods.

Students at Hungerford School in Eatonville, ca 1940. Image from Olins Library Special Collection and Archive

When asked why the garden was started in Eatonville, the ladies of the club mentioned that they want to give back to the community and provide a healthy diet for those who have diabetes or high blood pressure and do not have the resources to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day. The chefs cook with ingredients straight from the garden to make biscuits, pies, and other signature dishes, which the community can then enjoy. By having this garden and the club, these men and women hope to add a sense of inclusion to Eatonville and bring people together, while creating a place for education and healthy lifestyles.

One quote from a woman in the community that stuck out to me was, ”You can tell that this is real food, real people, real hospitality, and it all comes together in the buttermilk biscuit.”  This showed how genuine and passionate these individuals are about what the gardens and club have done for the community of Eatonville. It is more than a garden with fresh produce to them; it has become something that they take pride in and dedicate a lot of time toward. It comes full circle when you see their hard work create valuable resources needed to ensure the health of their community. It was clear by the way these women were discussing the garden that this is the authentic Eatonville. It is a place where love is put in and spread throughout the community.



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