Seedfolks takes place in Cleveland, Ohio. There is no set time; however it is after the Vietnam War. Cleveland is a multicultural society. The simple act of a child united them.
Kim, a nine-year old immigrant from Vietnam, starts the garden as a tribute to her father, a Vietnamese farmer. She had never known her father, but she started the garden by planting a handful of lima beans to show him she was his daughter.
“He would see my patience and my hard work. I would show him that I could raise plants as he had. I would show him that I was his daughter.” (pg 4)
She plants lima beans, not because they mean anything, but because she wants the spirit of her father to recognize she is his daughter.
Tio Juan from Guatemala did not know the customs of America, but he, also, had been a farmer in his country. When he developed his plot in the garden, his daughter bought him familiar seeds. He was lost in this new culture of America, but comfortable in his old culture as a farmer.
“He changed from a baby back into a man.” (pg 22 )
Leona planted goldenrod tea for her grandmother. Her doctors told her grandmother to take numerous medicines, but she refused. She insisted that her habit of drinking goldenrod tea every morning was the reason for her health. She outlived her doctors and died at ninety-nine.
Sam was a retired social worker, and it was his job during his working years to bring people together. He found that the garden did just that. He immediately called the garden “Paradise”.
“God, who made Eden, also wrecked the Tower of Babel, by dividing people. From Paradise, the garden was turning back into Cleveland.” (pg 35)
Virgil was from Haiti. His father drove a taxicab. They grew lettuce to sell to restaurants. The fresher the lettuce the better. They saw it as a financial asset.
Nora brings Mr. Myles from the old aged home for a walk each day. They pass the garden. Mr. Myles is in a wheelchair and severely handicapped from a stroke. Nora feels that he is close to death. He cannot dig or grow a garden. However, Nora finds a way. She brings a barrel and fills it with dirt. She,then, gives Mr. Myles a dozen seed packets, vegetables and flowers, allowing him to choose which to plant. He chose flowers.
“Mr. Myles chose the flowers decisively, ignoring the vegetables. Was he recalling his mother’s flower garden? “ (pg 62)
Amir, from India, grew eggplant and other vegetables from his country. However, the eggplant was of the greatest interest to the other gardeners.
“Very many people came over to ask about them and talk to me. “ (pg 75)
The garden became a place where people of all cultures could meet and have something in common to discuss. It became a uniting event that started as a simple gesture of a child.