American Gardens and From Seed to Supper

American Gardens and From Seed to Supper


Saturday, January 11, 2pm-3:30pm

FREE with Museum Admission

1000 Richmond Terrace, Building A, SI, NY 10301

An exploration of Black Diasporan ornamental gardens and the growers, garden clubs, and horticulturists associated with them led by Staten Island based horticulturist Wambui Ippolito.

Wambui Ippolito is the horticulturist and principal designer of her own New York based landscape design firm. She is a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture. Also joining the discussion is author Malaika Adero, Executive Director and Curator at the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum Shaun Spencer-Hester, and botanist Dr. Abdul-Salim. 

Tickets for this event are no longer available. 

Wambui Ippolito - Wambui Ippolito is the horticulturist and principal designer of her own New York based landscape design. She is a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden's School of Professional Horticulture where she studied under some of the country's top gardening experts. Wambui teaches horticulture classes in botanical gardens and horticulture institutions in New York and New Jersey.

Malaika Adero – Malaika Adero, of Adero's Literary Tribe,LLC, works with writers and organizations developing and promoting books. She is the coauthor of The Mother of Black Hollywood with Jenifer Lewis (Amistad) and Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (Doubleday). And, she is the author of Up South (The New Press), an anthology of writings and photographs on the Great Migration and A Black Woman Did That (Downtown Bookworks January 2020, profiles of extraordinary women illustrated by Chanté Timothy. She is now completing a work of narrative nonfiction on her family's experience from enslavement through the Black Liberation movements of the 20th Century in East Tennessee. The working title is True Names.

She is primarily based New York City, but maintains homes in Atlanta, and Knoxville where she tends to her family home and gardens in the historic community of Lyons View that has been in her family since the Reconstruction era.

Shaun Spencer-Hester – Shaun Spencer-Hester is the mother of one son, Jordan Alexander Hester, and resides in Lynchburg, VA. Spencer-Hester is an artisan, historian, designer, curator, playwright, and avid social and community supporter.  She currently serves as the Executive Director and Curator at the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, a historic house museum dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the literary, cultural, and social legacy of her grandmother, Harlem Renaissance poet and activist Anne Spencer. Her restoration and curatorial work during the past ten years at the Anne Spencer Museum has been nationally and internationally recognized.

Kobinah Abdul-Salim - Dr. Abdul-Salim is a botanist with interests in the evolution of plants of the world’s tropical forests. He has conducted field research in Africa and Madagascar and worked as a fellow at both the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He holds a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, a Masters degree in Biology from University of Missouri-St. Louis, and a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He has taught at Ohio State University and the City University of New York, and is currently President of Protologue, LLC, an educational media publishing and consulting firm based in Trenton, NJ.


FROM SEED TO SUPPER: Rice Tasting with Gullah Chef BJ Dennis

Thursday, January 16, 7pm-9pm

$35 per person (Registration required. Space is limited.)

1000 Richmond Terrace, Building A, SI, NY 10301

Join renowned chef BJ Dennis in conversation with horticulturist Wambui Ippolito for an interactive exploration of the culinary traditions of the Gullah, a distinctive group of Black Americans from coastal South Carolina and Georgia. A series of rice tastings are matched with discussion around the history and culture of this all important seed and special link between the Gullah and the people of West Africa.

Benjamin “BJ” Dennis IV is a chef born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, whose cooking is inspired by Gullah Geechee culture, with its origins in West Africa. Dennis studied culinary traditions in St. Thomas before returning to the Lowcountry to cook at various restaurants including Anson’s, Carolinas, Hank’s Seafood, and 82 Queen. He now cooks at various events across the country and pop-up dinners across the Lowcountry.

Read more about Chef Dennis in Bon Appétite.

This event has reached capacity.


American Gardens and the African Diaspora and From Seed to Supper is funded, in part, through Staten Island Arts’ Expanding Audiences and Cultural Participation program, which has been made possible through the generosity of New York Community Trust, The Staten Island Foundation, and the Altman Foundation.