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  • Angelia Kane

The historic fruit that was hidden in plain site

Jolly’s Mill Pond has always been a part of Bill's life. He knows this land better than anyone.

Growing up, he must have walked past this one cluster of spindly trees hundreds of times. They were barely noticeable and disappeared into the forest like any of the tulip poplars, bald cypress, or pine trees.

He only discovered what they were a few years ago: pawpaw. Pawpaw is a fruit that grew all around the farm. It is native to the United States and was used by Native Americans and early settlers. It has a tropical flavor that's a cross between bananas and mangoes.

An example of the pawpaw fruit on our farm
Paw Paw Fruit

pawpaw, (Asimina triloba), deciduous tree or shrub of the custard apple family (Annonaceae) and its edible fruit. The pawpaw—native to the United States from the Atlantic coast north to New York state and west to Michigan and Kansas—boasts the largest tree-borne fruit native to North America. Source:

As Bill and I have been peeling back the layers of our farm's unknown Black history, it was only natural to start exploring its agricultural and culinary heritage. We had a million questions, including:

  • What types of dishes were prepared by the Black and Indigenous communities on our property over the centuries?

  • What foods did they cultivate here?

  • What cooking methods did they use?

  • What influence did the enslaved have on regional dishes?

In the upcoming year, we'll be sharing some of our findings. Frankly, I've been nerding over our discoveries and can't wait to share them with you!

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