Paul Fleishman's novel Seedfolks is a series of character vignettes centered around a young girl named Kim who plants seeds in a vacant lot in the neighborhood. This begins a community garden in which many members of the community contribute.
Kim is a Vietnamese immigrant living in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Kim's father died eight months before she was born. She decides to plant the lima beans in the vacant lot in honor of him. This is what she says:
"But in that vacant lot he would see me. He would watch my beans break ground and spread, and would notice with pleasure their pods growing plump. 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."
The vacant lot is filled with trash, old tires, a rusty refrigerator, and an old couch.
Ana is the subject of the next character vignette in the novel. She was born in 1915. She has seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood over the years. One of her hobbies is watching people in the neighborhood. She observes Kim digging in the vacant lot and assumes she is up to no good. She believes Kim must be hiding drugs, money, or a gun. Her twenty years typing for the parole department lead her to these conclusions. To satisfy her curiosity, she goes into the vacant lot one day and begins digging up Kim's plants. She discovers the white beans with roots coming from them and feels terrible, knowing she had done them harm. She watches the next day as Kim brings a jar of water to water the beans with, and buys herself a pair of binoculars.
Kim affects her community by sparking hope in the neighborhood. Without intending to, she creates a place where people can contribute a piece of themselves. The vacant lot becomes a garden, with trash and ruin replaced by beauty.
Ana's contribution to her community is as the watchful eye over everything. Ana also enlists Wendell's help in watering Kim's beans when she notices she hasn't been to the lot in four days. In this way, she is responsible for helping keep the hope of the garden and the neighborhood alive.