Skip to content

Michael Twitty Creates a New Kind of Garden at Colonial Williamsburg

The Sankofa Garden is a new effort by food historian Michael Twitty to teach the world about the influence of African culture on American cuisine. A physical extension of the work he started with his online platform, Afroculinaria, this new garden at Colonial Williamsburg demonstrates the traditions and knowhow that African slaves brought to American gardening and cooking. The project is part of a larger effort (one that’s gradually happening across many historical institutions) to reframe historic museums through a broader lens, one that encompasses all the residents who would have lived in a historic space—and contends with the darker history of what went on there, something many historic homes and museums have often swept under the proverbial rug. Derived from a Ghanaian term meaning “to go back,” Sankofa celebrates ancestral heritage—and what can be learned from it today. To Twitty, the core of the Sankofa garden is displaying not only the types of crops enslaved people were growing at the time but paying homage to the immense knowledge enshrined in these crops and how they’re used.