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Growing Moringa in California

Often when in community I am talking about the benefits of plant based nutrition with a focus on Moringa as a staple food and often I get a question that falls along the lines of " Is it easy to grow?"

While I do want to address the growing and cultivation process for Moringa , I will mostly pull from my own experience with the tree.

I started growing Moringa in two thousand and sixteen in response to our son being diagnosed Sickle Cell SS. This was a new space for me and I needed a unconventional approach to meet this ancient demand of health and wellness. My balanced thoughts and pure heart towards the matter of my son's health created space to magnetize a moment with an angel in the form of a brother from Ethiopia, who would give me few Moringa seeds and the rest is history. The back story on how I received the seeds from this angelic brother developed out of a real desire to problem solve, it was this moment that served as a catalyst to understanding Moringa as it relates to our genetics. I believe in Pan Africanism and this was a honorable expression into the principle of ujimaa among leaders in the diaspora, finding solutions for community problems.

During this time in two thousand and sixteen I was working at Oakland Technical High school as a intervention specialist in the classroom with students with moderate learning disabilities, according to compulsory pedagogy. This job was very involving, it put me in a position that was mentally, a heavy lifting daily task, especially considering having a special needs child myself. This "employment opportunity" was a way my college degree could be of use as well as, my skill as a silk screen printer could also be brought into community. During lunchtime I would invest in youth by teaching them the principles of art and entrepreneurship using the printer as the medium to illuminate the possibilities. This was from a gardeners point of view, me planting seeds into the minds of our students, who may have not been exposed to it otherwise. As a substitute in the classroom, I would bring this unique, equipment with me everywhere I would go through the district. It was important to me to add value to my community.

I knew the skill I had learned could be a paradigm shifting experience for others based on the impact that it had on my own life. As a aboriginal scientist first, I understood that compulsory public schooling, since its inception operates as a institution of social reproduction. Without the participation of community leaders and survival programs like our art and entrepreneurship classes their is not a way to disrupt the flawed approach towards education that leaves students disempowered , disengaged and focused on a curriculum that from a cultural perspective is disrespectful. We were inclined to see our class as a political vehicle to be parallel to hegemony. I would soon learn from my son's condition, that the intersection between what I had not learned about sickle cell in school, as in, who sickle cell impacted the most and my need to find alternative treatment plans were just as political as the hegemonic propaganda that perpetuated indigenous slander.

After working on campus I would regularly take the bus home, sometimes, depending on the flow of the day and the immediate needs of my wife and son, I would stop by the lake Merrit to mentally unpack and be still like the water, gathering my thoughts and my patience before heading home. This day in particular I would stop by my comrade's Coffee shop situated on the exit side of children's fairyland an amusement park located on the shores of lake merrit.

This is a space where Oakland natives and East African immigrants would often meet and share culture , insight and now, plant medicines. Once I got to the space known as 'coffee with a beat, a Black owned business' which, closed its doors for good during COVID. I was at the lake in meditation for all but five minutes when I got a call from my wife, she told me that our car broke down and she didn't have a ride to get home. she was with our three year old son. Being that I was on the bus, I realized that there wasn't much I could do. I also realized I needed help getting to my family to secure their safety and solve our car problem. I walked up to a group of Ethiopian brothers and told them about my scenario, one brother told me he was heading in that direction and he wouldn't mind taking me. Once we got in the car we began talking about our families , our wives and children. I asked him if he had ever heard of sickle cell anemia, and though I don't remember his reply in the sense of words being exchanged. I will not soon forget him reaching into his jacket and handing me two Moringa seeds. He said with a serious look " eat one and plant the other"and with a heart full of trust and mind set on belief in my own journey, I would eat the first seed. Not knowing exactly what Moringa was, I chewed it and swallowed it, my first reaction to eating it was this was this had to be some kind of mind altering experience I was undergoing. Being that my body, mind and spirit had never experienced such a seed, my mind was working over time to calculate what my body was assimilating, nonetheless my spirit trusted the path in its entirety.

As we continued to travel through East Oakland on the way to reconnect with my family I began to notice a shift in my perception towards time, space and matter. What I mean by this is that this whole experience had to find me, like destiny manifesting in time and space to show us how much we mattered. We had a problem and through just speaking with brothers within our space I was able to find a solution to our problem that had been plaguing our family. All in divine time. Upon arriving to High street to connect with my family I realized miracles are just another way of describing cause and effect. Once we got home I researched the germination process for the Moringa seed and initiated the process in a scientific fashion. we were one step closer to creating our society and we now had a national identity revolving around a sacred plant medicine that traveled around the world to the palm of my hand. For the next three years I would receive thousands of Moringa seeds and study them deeply, to understand their molecular properties and its ability to prevent ailments within the sickle cell community with my son as the muse, vanguard and the reason for the season.

Fast forward to twenty twenty - two , we have made tremendous strides towards eliminating anemia within the sickle cell community with the understanding that this will greatly reduce the illnesses associated with iron deficiency. Isothiocyanate is a key molecule found within Moringa as well as, other vegetables found within the brassica family like broccoli & Brussel sprouts. This particular molecular structure respresents Sulfur , Carbon and Nitrogen. Once this combination enters into the body through consumption, it has a reaction within the bloodstream of the sickled cells. It actively works to reduce sickling in red blood cells while also resulting in additional flexibility to cells to reduce sticking and clumping. All of this genetic information is stored in the Moringa seed and made manifest in its leaves. Amazing! Intelligent design is not up for debate, we need three eyes to see the interconnectedness of nature, only then does the underlining harmony of our lives and its environment begin to come together like paramount puzzle pieces.

- Create Society

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