Fatema Khanom, Seed Guardian, Selby Street Gardening Club
I’ve been living here for 22 years. But four years ago I started gardening. Before then I didn’t know anything about gardening. Katherine (from the farm) helped us, how to make a garden, how to grow our own vegetables. Then we started gardening. Now, every year I grow my own vegetables. I grow the vegetables that I like, or my children like.
Why I grow my own food
The flavour is nice. A garden tomato is flavourful, tasty, smooth. It’s very nice, very yummy! That’s why I like gardening. The flavour is different from the shop. When you grow your own things you feel so proud of yourself. It looks nice. “I made that vegetable!” When I’ve been in the garden for one or two hours, it just goes, and I think, “Oh I’ve been gardening for two hours!” Before, I didn’t know my neighbour, Rosemary. We just said, “Hi, hello.” That’s it. “How are you?” But now we talk about gardening, what she’s been doing, sometimes she asks about me. And sometimes I give her some vegetables. We know each other more. Even with Halema, we are from the same Bengali community, but we didn’t know each other well. Now we know each other better. Sometimes I have some seeds that she doesn’t have, and I’ll give her. This women’s group has helped to build the community. I think gardening is the best idea. And it’s good for your health. When you’re sitting at home you don’t do that much. When you are gardening, pulling, picking, it’s like exercise. I feel good.
Why I save seeds
Sometimes when we buy seeds the quality is not good. Sometimes it’s rotten seed. But if you save your own seed, it’s 100% ok. That’s why I save the seed: the quality. You can also save money.
Connection between growing and my heritage
I remember back home they grew vegetables. Now I’m growing the same vegetables. Sometimes I send pictures to my cousin back home, “This year I grew that.” They ask me, “You are growing that in the UK?!” I say, “Yes! We are still Bengali, our roots are Bengali. That’s why I grew that!” I ask them, “What did you grow this year?” Even here I still ask my cousin, my sister, “What did you do with your gardening?”
Hear from Fatema
How I feel when I work in the garden
I’m happy when I see flowers coming, or a plant growing. But when a plant is dying, I feel so sad, because it’s tiny, so little. Sometimes you see it’s dead and you feel so sad. And when the plant is growing vegetables I don’t want to pick them!! Because I feel like they are my children. How can I pick them? Everyone tells me, “Take it. It’s ripe.” I say, “No, not today, I’m going to take it tomorrow.” Chillies, tomatoes, potol, kodu, everything, I say, “No. Not today. I’ll take it tomorrow.” But I feel sad when you see it growing every day, how its shape comes. And at the end of the day, you’re going to cut the vegetable. It feels so sad. It’s living.