Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood

harlem grown

Discover the incredible true story of Harlem Grown, a lush garden in New York City that grew out of an abandoned lot and now feeds a neighborhood.

Once In a big city called New York In a bustling neighborhood There was an empty lot. Nevaeh called it the haunted garden.

Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration.

Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s “charmingly busy art” (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again.

Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The author’s share of the proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Harlem Grown.---from the publisher

40 pages                                978-1534402317                      Ages 4-8

Keywords:  Harlem, food, social activist, role of the individual, power of the individual, neighborhood, community, African American, farm, school project, New York, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old, diversity, diverse books, informational picture book, narrative nonfiction, gardening, green living


Harlem Grown is a feel good read about one man, a big idea, an empty, abandoned lot full of trash and a school full of hard-working kids. When Mr. Tony visits their school, he sees the ugly lot of trash the kids call "the haunted garden" and he begins to clear the trash himself. With a new, clean lot and he began to put in fresh soil and plant seedlings. A girl named Neveah helped Mr. Tony and soon her friends joined in.

They planted 400 seedlings per child. This was great for the kids who had no art or gym classes. They spent their energy in the garden. After the first plants failed, Mr. Tony built raised beds and they planted again. In a neighborhood that has fifty-five fast food restaurants but no grocery store to buy fresh produce, Mr. Tony taught the kids and their families to run the garden and reap the rewards in fresh food. Soon other sites opened. Now there are twelve gardens all over Harlem with twenty-two full time employees. Harlem Grown uses mentors from the neighborhood to teach the younger kids about hard work and good nutrition.

From one man and one seed, a movement and foundation was born. Truly an inspiring story of hope for a blighted neighborhood and a chance for the children to have pride in their work, rescuing one vacant lot at a time and turning it into a garden of sustenance to feed their neighbors.

Folk art illustrations are colorful and beautiful. The story of Mr. Tony and his gardens is included following the story and instructions on how to start a garden and additional resources for future study.

HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Every child should have this book. Every adult should read this book. Everyone should look at their own neighborhood and find a project to make it a better place.

Recommended by: Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Author, Blogger, Florida USA

See more of her recommendations: https://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/2021/

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