In an effort to attract more people from marginalized communities to agricultural spaces, the Jane Minor BIPOC Community Medicine Garden serves as a sanctuary for Black, indigenous and people of color to connect with the environment and each other.
Community herbalist Amanda David founded the Brooktondale garden on their home’s side yard three years ago. David is a longtime upstate New York resident, growing up in nearby Chemung County and moving to Tompkins County 23 years ago.
David said once they were able to buy a house with an acre and a half of land attached to it, they immediately knew they wanted to turn the land into a community resource for BIPOC individuals.
“I decided to turn that [land] into a community garden so that other folks could have access to land to steward and land to grow on and make medicine and heal and build community,” David said.
David described that while there were other places in Tompkins County for individuals to access land and learn about plants, soil and agriculture, they particularly wanted to address a shortage of BIPOC-focused gardening spaces. David found that there wasn’t a “safety and community building aspect” for BIPOC growers locally, and David wanted to be part of creating one themselves. The garden’s name stems from a heroic Black herbalist from the pre-Civil War era whose story personally inspired David.
In the beginning, the land where the garden now sits was completely overgrown and untended, David said. Currently, the community garden includes a teaching pavilion, communal and individual beds, a community herb drying shed, a lending library of herb books and tools, a free farm-fresh egg fridge and a free herbal medicine cabinet. The garden is now surrounded by a fence which brings privacy and security and keeps animals from eating the