Raising Spirits & Creating Joy through Cooking

Afua Baidoo Davis and her family came to VINES to learn how to put their backyard to productive use. “My daughter came home and told me about the program. She said ‘well, we have a big enough backyard. We should think about learning skills in gardening.” Volunteering with VINES gave Afua and her three kids: Janiah, Louis and Jadyn, the opportunity to get out of the house during the coronavirus and safely meet new people in the community. 

The Baidoo-Davis family volunteered at many of the community garden work days this summer. “We got to get out in the sun!” says Afua. “When the kids are home they are watching TV, playing video games or doing their own thing. This way we were all together and we got to do something besides be home.” 

When Afua met Community Gardens Manager Christina “CZ” Zawerucha, a great friendship formed. As the two of them got to know one another, Afua revealed that she loved to cook, and African dishes were her specialty as she immigrated to Brooklyn from Ghana as a teenager. Ever curious about everything CZ engaged Afua in talk of cooking, culture and, eventually, jollof rice. This rolled into an idea for the Baidoo-Davis family to host a Gahanaian Cooking Night for the VINES Green Thumb Workshop Series. 

We were able to get all of the vegetables we needed from the different gardens. The Corbett Street garden grows beautiful garlic and they shared that with us and some gardeners at Otsiningo Park also gave us some other veggies for the dish. It’s nice when you’re using what you’re growing to cook and you don’t have to wonder where it comes from.” 

The whole family got into the event. Afua’s son, Louis, prepared a playlist of Ghanaian music to get attendees in the spirit. Jadyn, Afua’s daughter, created an information sheet about Ghana, as well. The event, during which attendees learned how to make jollof rice, was viewed by attendees both on the Urban Farm and virtually via Zoom. It was a VINES workshop to remember, and it truly spread joy and raised spirits during a time that was so tough for so many. 

 “It was just all around a great experience,” Afua says of this past growing season.” We met so many wonderful people. Each garden that I went to there was someone I met that I truly enjoyed.”

Capture some of the joy the was emanating from the Ghanaian Cooking Workshop this winter with these links:

Afua’s Jollof Rice Recipe

Youtube playlist of Ghanaian Music  

All About Ghana Info sheet