Co-Director of Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, Accokeek, MD

Bonnetta Adeeb is the founder & President of STEAM ONWARD, Inc, a non-profit 501(c3) organization in Southern Maryland. The mission of Steam Onward is to increase the number of minority and under-served youth pursuing higher education in STEM related fields, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This goal is achieved by providing youth in Southern Maryland with after school hands-on experiential learning opportunities in agriculture, natural resources, and the environment.

Steam Onward as an incubator for Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA) and Ujamaa Seeds. UCFA is a collective of emergent and seasoned growers who cultivate heirloom seeds and grow culturally relevant plants for food, healing and textiles. UCFA recognizes the need for increased diversity in farming and the seed industry, and the need to provide more opportunities and support for growers from historically oppressed and marginalized communities. To this end the UCFA is working to bridge the gap between prospective growers and seed companies. We are working to expand the availability of culturally important seeds, while empowering our community towards food sovereignty.

In addition, Bonnetta works with the Cooperative Gardens Commission (CGC). CGC has supported approximately 12,000 gardens and assisted around 100,000 people in need by distributing free heirloom seeds to communities in need nationally. Nationally Cooperative Garden Commission has been able to serve folks through 257 seed hubs in 41 states. CGC has initiatives in land sovereignty and rematriation of seeds to indigenous communities and communities of color.

Why are collards special?

With its history as an essential element of African American food ways, collard greens have symbolize African-American culture and identity, as well as the cultural traditions of the southern USA states. Collard greens were one of the few vegetables that African-Americans were allowed to grow for themselves and their families during the period of enslavement. Even after the Africans were emancipated in the late 1800s cooked greens continued to be a comfort in the African-American culture. In popular African American culture greens symbolize money, and wealth.

What’s Your Favorite Way To Eat Collards?

Mimi Greens: This can be served as a stew over jasmine rice, as a side dish, or as a cold collard green sandwich as MaLee used to eat it. This recipe comes from our dear adopted Sista, Mirelle Ghbetholancy (Mimi), from Niger, West Africa.

In West Africa, dried fish sets the flavor profile for the signature flavors. In Nigeria they call it stock fish, but with over 3000 languages spoken in Africa the name of the dish is not what counts. It’s the flavor baby. While pork is often used in southern cuisine, you can substitute fish, goat, beef, or shrimp. The protein ingredients can be it dried or smoked. That’s how you achieve that African flavor in this dish.


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