DescriptionVilla Africána Colobó manifests the links between North Philadelphia, the African Diaspora, and Puerto Rican culture. But the garden’s story of heritage began long before it was completed in 2006. During the 1990s, garden founder Iris Brown maintained a space in the neighboring Las Parcelas garden using “the shape of a hut” in plywood together with clothes and masks celebrating the Afro-Puerto Rican culture of her hometown, Loiza. Brown dubbed this space “Villa Africána Colobó”, and that was the name that she kept as she designed the huts that now stand in what is today Villa Africána Colobó across the street from Las Parcelas. Completed in 2006, the community garden’s lush mix of herbs, fruit, and vegetables radiate from three huts. These central structures celebrate Africa’s rich history through vibrant colors and educational interiors, inspired by photos of West African homes. A colorful variety of garden plants includes yuca, sunflowers, Puerto Rican oregano, and castor bean, standing conveniently near an outdoor kitchen for workshops and get-togethers. Colobó also includes a storytelling room that features more educational materials and artifacts. “It’s just to tell a story, it’s just for people to have an appreciation for Africa and its people,” Brown summarizes. Under the continued maintenance of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project, Colobó will spread that appreciation for Africa for many years to come.
Story contributed by Joe M.