Klindienst, Patricia

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Klindienst, Patricia




Home—Guilford, CT.


Educator, gardener, and writer. Has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan College, and Connecticut College.


The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Coming to Light: American Women Poets in the Twentieth Century, edited by Diane Wood Middlebrook and Marilyn Yalom, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1985; contributor to periodicals, including the Stanford Literature Review.


Patricia Klindienst is a writing teacher and master gardener who spent three years traveling through the United States collecting oral histories for her book The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans. In this cultural study, the author gathers stories of urban, suburban, and rural gardens created by people rarely represented in American gardening books: Native Americans, Asian and European immigrants, and ethnic people living on the land long before it became America, including the Southwest Hispanics and the descendents of African slaves who became the Gullah gardeners of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina.

"The connection between farming, between growing food, and culture, is slipping away from our national memory and from the personal memory of many of our citizens," wrote Deborah Schumacher on the Food Co-op Web site. Schumacher went on to write: "Patricia Klindienst's … book The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans is a reminder of what exactly we are losing."

In her book, the author writes about Americans' loss of connection to the soil and their failure to understand the relationship between food and a sense of belonging to a certain place and people. Klindienst also explores how gardening and growing food helped ethnic and immigrant Americans maintain a cultural heritage in a new world. For example, the author profiles Clayton Brascoupe, a Mohawk Indian who follows the gardening practices of Iroquois Indians along with local practices and Japanese and Australian concepts of gardening "to recreate traditional corn-growing in the area," noted Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer in the Ethnic Studies Review. Among the other gardeners profiled are Akio Suyematsu, a Japanese American berry farmer, and Gerard Bentry, a Polish American gardener living in the state of Washington. In addition, the author explains her own Italian heritage in the prologue to her book, noting how an old family picture of her immigrant ancestors and their rejection of their Italian heritage spurred her to write the book.

In a review of The Earth Knows My Name in the Christian Century, Daniel Hetzler commented that readers "can be stirred by the discussion of social, ecological and economic issues facing all of us who are concerned to pass on a tradition of gardening," adding that the book "is … for people concerned about protecting the earth and saving people from economic and social oppression." Food Co-op Web site contributor Schumacher commented that the book "made me hungry for our lost history and tradition."



California Bookwatch, July, 2006, review of The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans.

Christian Century, September 19, 2006, Daniel Hertzler, "The $64 Tomato," review of The Earth Knows My Name, p. 38.

Ethnic Studies Review, summer, 2006, Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer, review of The Earth Knows My Name, p. 113.

Pacific Historical Review, November, 2007, Jeffrey M. Pilcher, "Voices in the Kitchen: Views of Food and the World from Working-Class Mexican and Mexican American Women," review of The Earth Knows My Name, p. 639.


Dartmouth College Web site,http://www.dartmouth.edu/ (May 8, 2007), "Patricia Klindienst—Gardens & the Making of Americans."

Food Co-op,http://www.foodcoop.coop/ (February 1, 2008), Deborah Schumacher, review of The Earth Knows My Name.

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