New Books, Old Wisdom

Cataloging new contemporary books for the Cherokee Garden Library has always been a refreshing change of pace from processing collections. It is exciting to see what the Acquisitions Committee has selected to add to the Library’s growing book collection. With the Atlanta History Center’s updated collecting plan now in place, book purchases support the institution’s mission to connect people, history, and culture and to serve, collect, preserve, and engage for inclusive, diverse, and historically underrepresented communities, including Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the Acquisitions Committee seeks to build a collection that examines gardening traditions of Native American, African American, and Latinx communities from the Southeastern United States.

Here are a few recent book additions that highlight this area of focus from the collection plan:

Cash, Jodi with Katherine Kennedy and Lauren Cox. Concrete Jungle: A Foraged Fruit Cookbook. Atlanta, GA: Concrete Jungle, 2019.

Since 2008, Concrete Jungle, an Atlanta nonprofit organization, has harvested wild-growing fruit trees in the Atlanta area with the mission to share, feed, and empower those in need. With over 40 recipes using 14 varieties of fruit, flower, and nut, this cookbook offers classic Southern recipes with a twist of the local harvest. Recipes include Kudzu Lemonade, Mulberry Smoothie, and Pawpaw Ice Cream. All proceeds from this locally sourced collection support the organization’s growing and foraging for Atlanta food pantries and soup kitchens.

Ezeilo, Angelou, with Nick Chiles. Engage, Protect, Connect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2019.

In 2007 Ezeilo founded the Atlanta based Greening Youth Foundation (GYF), to engage and educate underrepresented youth for careers in conservation. Bringing attention to the cultural divide in environmentalism, Engage, Protect, Connect examines environmental efforts that exclude communities of color. The authors debunk the myth that only wealthy white communities are interested in environmental issues and detail ways in which GYF has worked with African American, Latinx, and Native American communities to inspire environmental leaders. This book offers practical guidance, resources, and curriculum for encouraging new young leaders from all communities as the next generation of environmental stewards.

Hood, Walter and Grace Mitchell Tada, eds. Black Landscapes Matter. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2020.

Through various contributors, Hood and Tada examine the history of Black landscapes and geographies and the widespread elimination or omission of these landscapes through racism and devaluing.  Black Landscapes Matter includes case studies, critiques, and calls to action that remind us that to appreciate our landscape history we must include multiple narratives and different viewpoints and incorporate these moving forward, striving for equality. As Atlanta struggles to unite through the BeltLine, this book will provide context for bringing communities together through its landscapes.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013.

Kimmerer, a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, offers a reminder that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. To realize our ecological goals, one must recognize our reciprocal relationship with the living world. With Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer makes a case for a “culture of regenerative reciprocity” in which we restore that balance. Intertwining Western science and Indigenous traditions through poetic and insightful writing, Kimmererinspires readers to celebrate the gifts of nature and understand the responsibility that comes with it.

Penniman, Leah. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2018.

Author and activist Leah Penniman is the cofounder of Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous community farm in Petersburg, New York. Her book, Farming While Black, is a comprehensive farming manual for small-scale farms and a thorough examination of traditional farming practices rooted in African American and Latinx heritages. Penniman dives into the history of discrimination and dispossession of Black-owned farms as well as issues of food apartheid neighborhoods and food justice. Through the wisdom of Black and brown ancestors, this book informs the reader of sustainable agricultural methods in all aspects of farming along with support and resources.

Salmón, Enrique. Iwígara: The Kinship of Plants and People. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2020.

Ethnobotanist Dr. Enrique Salmón, member of the Rarámuri tribe, brings the wisdom of North American Indigenous people to this detailed illustrated catalog of native North American plants. Iwígara, named for the Rarámuri concept that all life forms are interconnected, describes plants valued by Native American tribes and how they were used historically and used today in food, medicine, and arts and crafts. Also included is the role of these plants in traditional stories and myths as well as useful tips for identification and ethical harvesting.


We invite you to explore these books and others in the Cherokee Garden Library, open by appointment Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 1:30pm and 1:30pm to 5pm.  Contact us to set up your next visit: reference@atlantahistorycenter.com or by calling 404-814-4040. We look forward to seeing you soon!