Harlem Grown

This book, Harlem Grown, is based on the origins of the New York based non-profit whose mission is to, "inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition." This book is a quick read but older readers can use it as a springboard for researching the organization and like minded organizations near them.
What I love about this book is that it makes visible the process of creating positive change. You notice a problem in your community and work with the community to devise systemic solutions to solve it. This book can inspire children can practice this skill at a young age.

Social Justice Activities:

  • Explore the sustainable farming initiatives near you. Research local food banks. Create maps for these resources in your community and transportation options to help people who may not have access.
  • Partner with a local organization to brink a community garden or even a small container gardens to your school.
  • If you have a have a school garden, center culturally responsive practices.
  • Gather data on family cooking practices and grow the herbs families typically use in their family recipes.
  • Introduce class inequality as a function of school funding. Why didn't PS 175 already have a garden? 

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Action 17. Students will recognize their own responsibility to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.

Action 20. Students will plan and carry out collective action against bias and injustice in the world and will evaluate what strategies are most effective.

Reading Strategies:

Problem/Solution Analyze Mr. Tony & the students' actions. Why did they develop the garden space? (they noticed a run down space that wasn't benefitting the community) How did they develop the space? (The worked together over a long period of time. When a plant didn't grow they didn't get frustrated, they used it as a learning opportunity).

Cause/Effect: What causes some schools to have a garden and some to not have a garden? Why do some schools have beautiful buildings and a lot of resources and some schools don't?

Inferences: What do we infer about the students and their families if 400 students participated? (That they care about eating healthy, fresh foods so much that they will devote a lot of time to gain access).


Book Details:
  • Non-Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Students in Harlem
  • Author's stated heritage: Black
  • Subject Integration: Science, Art, SEL

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain