In the aftermath of the flood, these interconnections between
Plant It Forward and the community only deepened. For example, as soon as they could get to their farms, Christine and Sarment harvested one hundred pounds of okra between them
that had somehow survived the endless rains. They hauled it to
the warehouse, not knowing what to do with it, happy to donate
it just so it wouldn’t go to waste without that week’s markets. So
Liz posted on Twitter about the okra surplus, and it was quickly
snapped up by folks churning out gumbo for first responders.
Then a local goat farmer saw the thread and insisted on paying
Christine and Sarment out of funds that her customers had
donated to her but that she didn’t really need because her farm
If human beings are defined at base by the fragility of our lives,
if we’re rooted together, in the end, by nothing but our shared
vulnerability, then maybe the only consolation for the human con-
dition is the care we can o=er each other. Ages ago, our idea of
justice must have emerged out of this sense of our fundamental
equality: we are all mortal, all at the mercy of forces we can’t pre-
dict or control. So when tragedy strikes, we need not ask for whom
the bell tolls. But while recovery requires resilience, like okra and
amaranth and roselle in the flood, it can be aided by humans rec-
ognizing in each other their own vulnerability and stretching out
a hand to pull them through to the other side.
TO GET TO THE Plant It Forward warehouse from downtown,
drive south on I-45, past strip malls from every decade of recent
memory, past car dealers and signs for immigration attorneys.
At Gulfgate Mall, turn west on I-610, with its cheap hotels
and industrial storage facilities and a construction yard where
Constant Ngouala with trays of seedlings and bags of compost beneath the electrical easement on which his Fondren Farm sits.