Harlem Grown started with a run-down lot and grew, if you will, into an entire independent nonprofit that inspires youth through urban agriculture. Created in 2011 by Tony Hillery, they operate local urban farms to teach children around Harlem about nutrition, sustainability, and growing their own greens.
Hillery witnessed firsthand the lack of resources public elementary schools in the area have, especially when it comes to student nutrition. So he galvanized a group of volunteers to turn an overrun lot on 134th street into a lush community garden—the contents of which are grown almost entirely by kids.
Harlem Grown currently partners with five schools throughout Central Harlem to teach children about urban farming and growing their own produce, as well as foster environmental stewardship and build cooking ability/comfort. Many of the children they serve live below the poverty line, and the nonprofit helps them access healthy food, while getting them excited about growing it themselves. Watching plants that you take care of grow is so uniquely fulfilling, and the gardens allow children to experience that bliss.
Today, they have over 10 urban agriculture facilities, ranging from soil-based farms and hydroponic greenhouses to school gardens all around the borough. They offer a wide-range of programming like free Saturday enrichment sessions and a seven-week summer camp. They also give hands-on farm tours that educate groups about different farming methods and composting.
In continuing with their mission, they hope to open even more gardens and serve more students. Those who want to help support them can volunteer, donate or participate in their youth programs.
More about Harlem Grown can be found on their website.