Strawberries – and I – have an interesting kind of relationship.
Sometimes – I love them. Sometimes, I don’t.
When I was a child, an aunt of mine married a dangerous man. Before he harmed a cousin of mine, we were just little girls out in the backyard – picking strawberries that she had grown – for the first time.
“Try one.” My aunt ordered.
I thought they would taste good, but instead my mouth filled with a bitter taste, and I spit it out. The berries were not as sweet as I expected them to be.
From that time on, I strongly disliked strawberries.
Until my Mema (grandmother) got involved. She heard of my dislike for strawberries late one spring. I was sent to stay with her after having some disagreements with my parents. (I had been taken out of public school, and asked to learn – at my own pace – at home.)
My grandmother was a fierce single-mother, that raised seven children before she was married a second time in life – to someone who adored her.
“Oh, no you don’t.” She said, looking at me more gently than I expected her to. She was the one who had stood in for my mother, who was upset with the public school system that felt like I would learn better ‘by myself’.
My mom, who later graduated with a master’s degree, had needed a few days to calm down and think about this school situation – and that was hard for her to do – with me sulking in the corner of the house. I was not allowed to go outside for fear that someone would make another mysterious report that would send us all scrambling for a sense of normalcy amongst chaos. The reports against me were retaliation for my speaking out for the safety of my cousin and other children. As soon as the alarm of a teacher was raised, I was ‘crazed’, ‘depressed’, ‘obsessive’ and ‘delusional’. Professionals were busy proving – that I was not.
Later, the criminal was acquited for his crime. After all of the confusion and accusations of a mental disorder – that I did not have – I only found peace with the safer members of my family – and my new friends – who had never heard of the incident, or witnessed any kind of mental disorder.
As a teenager, for the second time in my life – I was with my grandmother, and once again, facing this little seedy red fruit – with another family member. Strawberries.
“You have to prepare them like this.” My grandmother taught me how to load tons of sugar onto the minced berries, and serve them over icecream.
So then, I liked strawberries —
— but only when they were minced with loads of sugar, served over vanilla icecream from Aldi.
When a new friend and mentor came along.
This friend had graduated from Harvard, and liked my reports and statistics on developing nations. The same kinds of things that I got in trouble in school writing, she would pour over and consider – sometimes – over steak, and almost always with fresh strawberries.
As their trusted nanny, I was supposed to feed their children strawberries with their meals.
And finally, that’s how I became a fan.
Witnessing a crime against children was my introduction to child justice.
And crimes against children in a village were what led me to them, as a young professional, wanting to help – to be the person that I knew so many children in this world needed. I knew how hard it was to make reports, and the gimmicks that were used to silence victims and witnesses – and confuse otherwise iron advocates for justice.
I first grew strawberries with my little son on our porch in a box that we made by ourselves from scrap wood from Home Depot.
“Can I eat this berry?” Asked my sweet little son, kneeling with his fingers gently canvassing a purplish-red one.
“Of course you can.” I smiled, proud that he had selected a good one.
Later, we worked with strawberries in the village – to correct some of the nutritional deficiencies – with the village children.
We were focusing on the production of vertical baskets, because we could control the soil if it were not in the earth and play with the conditions until we could produce more of them – if not enough to feed everyone bowls full, we could at least make up a few batches of strawberry tea.
To read more about strawberries in the village, subscribe. We have a tea recipe we’d love to share with you soon, as well as more information about the health benefits of these cute little red seedy berries.
So now, strawberries are memories of my new friends, that are family, too. Check out this Avocado Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe from Gimme Some O=ven!
Click Below To Make A Donation for healthy food and meals for children in our village – and support our Rainbow Garden Project: