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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


As another offering to all of you in your gardens tending toward the Solstice in just a few weeks on December 21st, this week we are in conversation with award-winning poet and life-long home gardener Camille Dungy.

Camille is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was a Guggenheim fellow in 2019, in 2021 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Treehouse Climate Action poetry prize. Camille is also a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

This conversation was longer than I could fit into our one-hour on-air time frame, so for terrestrial listeners please check out this week’s podcast version of Cultivating Place up above through the Soundcloud link to hear the full conversation, including Camille reading another poem to be included in her upcoming collection of garden based poems entitled Soil, The History of A Black Mother’s Garden. I was so pleased that she was able to read both Tropic Cascade and Smith's Blue for the on-air version of the program.

If you enjoy hearing poets read their work, I think you would love to follow this link to a recent wonderful multi-media piece "Black Gardeners Find Refuge in the Soil" a collection of black gardening voices from the New York Times, written by garden friend and garden scholar Abra Lee of Conquer the Soil. In the piece, Camille reads a wonderful garden-based poem "Garden Style: A Procession".

Dungy’s other poetry collections are Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award, Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), winner of the American Book Award, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison(Red Hen Press, 2006), finalist for PEN the Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as assistant editor on Gathering Ground: Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Her poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Travel Writing, 100 Best African American Poems, nearly 30 other anthologies, plus dozens of print and online venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, VQR, Guernica, and Other honors include two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, two NAACP Image Award nominations, two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations, fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and fellowships from the NEA in both poetry and prose.

Camille and I have been in conversation about your being a guest on the program for several years, I am so pleased to share this conversation forward.

All home garden and plant love photos from Camille's Fort Collins, Colorado by Mary Ellen Sanger and Callie Dungy.


you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:

JOIN US again next week, when we here in the Northern Hemisphere continue our garden preparations for the Solstice and winter’s dormancy in conversation with Devorah Brous, gardener and herbalist talking with us about the sacred in our garden cycles and the concept of the Sabbatical, or periods of much needed and healthy rest. Listen in!


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the American Horticultural Society. Soon to Celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, AHS has been a trusted source of high quality gardening and horticultural information since 1922.

Today, AHS’s mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and practice of horticulture. Members of AHS receive the award-winning flagship magazine, The American Gardener, free admission and other discounts to more than 345 public gardens with the Reciprocal Admissions Program, plus discounts on books, seeds, programs and more!

Listeners of Cultivating Place can receive a $10 discount on the annual individual membership of $35, by visiting For your annual Membership to the American Horticultural Society for the special Cultivating Place rate of just $25 a year, head over to

Cultivating Place is also proud to receive support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.

For more information on their programs and membership, please visit


Thinking out loud this week:

I overuse the word powerful don’t I? I don’t care. That’s what we are - we are powerful as gardeners as humans no matter if we garden on our windowsills, on our farms, or simply by supporting others who garden and/or grow our food or our environment.

We must embrace and care for and watch over and wield this power with all of our hearts and all of our mental alacrity. We can make a difference.

Which Trophic Cascades will you and your garden to be part of in 2022. The most rejuvenating and connective of ones. These are my hopes and prayers for us as Gardeners heading into a new cycle around the sun.

In thinking out loud this week I would love to. Invite some feedback from all of you – feedback to help me grow and prepare for the next season of growth. No matter if you are a donor – and if you are thank you! I could not do this work without your support – a regular listener or an intermittent listeners, I could use your help with these questions:

1. Where do. You live and how do you describe yourself as a gardener?

2. What were your top three episodes of Cultivating Place in this last year?

3. What kinds of episodes resonate with you and you would like to hear more of?

4. What kinds of conversations are least compelling to you and you would like to hear less of?

5. If you think it would be a good fit, Would you be like to help introduce Cultivating Place to your local public radio station?

6. Any other thoughts on the program you’d like to share?

If you have the time and inclination to answer these questions, please send your answers to me:

FOR EVERYONE that submits answers (or even writes in) between now and 12.31.21, you’ll be entered into a new year’s day drawing for a signed set of both my books to be sent to whomever you would like. That’s right – write in between now and New Year’s eve and your name will be in the drawing.

Thank you in advance for your help!





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DONATE: Cultivating Place is a listener-supported co-production of North State Public Radio. To make your listener contribution – please click the donate button below. Thank you in advance for your help making these valuable conversations grow.

Or, make checks payable to: Jennifer Jewell - Cultivating Place

and mail to: Cultivating Place

PO Box 37

Durham, CA 95938


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