cassava leavesShe picks the leaves off the cassava plant with her baby strapped to her back, focusing on gathering enough for her large family. Looking for the softest leaves, she focuses her efforts on the top part of the cassava plant, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing so that so that one day, soon, she will harvest the cassava root itself.  Moving from plant to plant, she picks quickly, able to get what she needs in little more than 10 minutes, due to her speed and experience. She bends over the large metal basin, placing stacks of leaves on top of each other until it is completely full. She continues picking until she cannot possibly fit another leaf and carefully places the basin on her head for the walk home. The baby sleeps, comfortable against the warmth of her back as she walks down the road, bobbing gently against her but secure thanks to the blanket that holds him against his mama.

Once she reaches home, she takes the baby into her home, placing him on the mat so he can continue his nap while she starts to prepare dinner. She rinses the leaves and using a liboka (a large wooden pestle) and a nzungu (a large wooden bowl), she crushes the leaves until they are small and very tender. The sound of the liboka against the nzungu is deep and resonant, echoing through the open, dirt front yard, joining the sound made in other households as everyone prepares their evening meal.  

crushing cassava leaves

When she knows the leaves are ready, she puts the green mass in a pot with a little water and places the pot over the open fire to cook. When the leaves are cooked down, she adds some palm oil, salt, garlic or onion, and peanut butter, allowing the leaves to cook more. This is a daily chore, as she serves this staple at almost every meal, providing loads of antioxidants, vitamins and nourishment to her family.

ponduBy participating in #PassMyPlate, you will be allowing us to provide seeds for gardens full of cassava, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and so many other valuable vegetables and fruit to families who desperately need them. Your donations also provide gardening tools and training so families can provide for themselves and their communities. Thanks for registering today!