In this hopeful, celebrative children’s picture book, author Tony Hillery relates the true story of how he became the founder and director of Harlem Grown, an urban garden movement begun in 2011. When Hillery volunteered at a public elementary school in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City, a student named Nevaeh pointed out a vacant lot across the street. She called it “the haunted garden.” Sadly, it was cluttered with garbage, discarded furniture, broken bottles, and other debris.
Mr. Tony, as the children began to call him, had an idea! With the help of the children and adults who lived nearby, Mr. Tony cleared the lot. He brought in clean topsoil and invited Nevaeh to help him. Soon, her friends joined in with planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. Then the children took their produce home and shared it with their families.
Tony Hillery’s clear, simple text and illustrator Jessie Hartland’s bright, energetic pictures offer a window on unfolding transformation and renewal in one neighborhood. In notes, Hillery relates how the initial garden plot has expanded to twelve sites across Harlem. Each year, thousands of pounds of vegetables are grown and given free of charge to neighbors and the community. Hillery also includes instructions on how to start a garden anywhere. (Simon & Schuster)