In Seedfolks, Kim is the catalyst for a community garden that links many diverse characters. The nine-year-old Vietnamese girl opens the book and sets the plot in motion with her decision to plant seeds. In order to connect with her late father, on a cold April morning Kim starts a garden in a littered vacant lot on Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio.
The previous day was the anniversary of Kim’s father’s death. With her mother and older sisters at the family altar, Kim pays respects to a father she never knew. He died eight months before Kim’s birth, so he never met her. Unlike her mother and sisters who knew
his face from every angle and held in their fingers the feel of his hands, [Kim] had no such memories to cry over. Worse, he had no memories of me. When his spirit hovered over our altar, did it even know who I was?
As they mourn Kim’s late father, the mother and sisters grieve over lost memories. Kim weeps “for a different reason”—heartbreakingly, she knows that her father has no knowledge of her.
Therefore, in a poignant effort to forge a bond with her farmer father, Kim resolves to plant seeds. She wants to show him that she is his daughter and someone to be proud of. In real life and from his photograph, her father has never laid eyes upon her. Kim digs six holes in the frozen ground and drops beans in each, all in the hopes that his spirit will eventually see the fruits of her labors:
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.
Kim proves herself to be determined, resourceful, and worthy of her late father’s pride. She carries on the tradition of fertility, vitality, and hope by starting this abundant community garden that joins diverse folks who happen upon, tend, sustain, and benefit from it.