Wpa Original Gardeners: Norfolk Botanical Garden (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now
Survival was the goal during the Great Depression. During the darkest period in the history of the United States families suffered great hardships and at one period over 13 million men and women were unemployed. If a person had a job it was at reduced wages and part-time. For African Americans, unemployment was double that of the general population. Norfolk, VA once a city of abundant jobs for African Americans whether professional, skilled, unskilled or laborer was hard hit during the Great Depression. Men and women found themselves waiting for any type of job. For many the relief lines were not an option. In 1938 the City of Norfolk received a Works Progress Administration grant and offered 200 African American women and 20 men the job of clearing a swamp to build an azalea garden. They used only pickaxes, shovels, hand saws, ropes and wheelbarrows to successfully clear debris, shrubs, underbrush, and cut down trees. They planted 4000 azaleas, 2000 rhododendrons, 100 bushels of tulips and a variety of other plants in six months. The once 25 acre swampland and only existing WPA garden is now a 175 acre natural beauty which has attracted international attention and won many awards. The original 220 gardeners were unknown and forgotten until a recent search to find names and honor their legacy was initiated by a group of middle school students. In 2009 a WPA Memorial Garden was erected in Norfolk Botanical Garden. Read about the journey to find the names of the gardeners. The books lists the 65 names that been reported as of this printing. Their families told stories of hardship, friendship and survival. Read the stories of the original gardeners. Discover how their legacy is being celebrated.