Someone built a garden in Harlem and the children in the area blossomed

A.D. When the financial crisis struck in 2008, Tony Hiller led a limousine and lived a comfortable life in Prada. He lost his business and credit lines and felt too old to start again.

He went to school because he had no money, no art, no gym, no music – very different from the private schools his children attended. So one day he decided to take the subway to Harlem to see what he could do.

“I’m no more arrogant,” Hillary told New York. I walked through the doors of the first elementary school I found, asked the principal, and said, ‘I came here to break the cycle of poverty. She gave me a lunch break, and I volunteered there five days a week.

Hillary talked to the children at lunchtime, and they waited for him. They called him “Mr. Tony” and made him look like Santa Claus. Their goodness reminds him of his own children.

“So when I found out that half of them lived in makeshift shelters, I was shocked,” he said. He tore me apart. I was looking for a way to help – anything.

He saw a community garden on the other side of the road – the children call it a ‘worried garden’ – and decided to clean it up. He got the paper work through the Parks Department and spent six weeks removing all trash. He did not know what to do except clean the place.

“Then one morning a little girl was pulled over my shoulder. A little thing with very large glasses,” he said. “Her name was Nevah. ‘Paradise’ was written back. She said, ‘Mr. Tony, why don’t we sow something?’

Hillary knew nothing about gardening, but Google’s search showed that it was difficult to grow plants. So he found an organic soil truck, a few cleaning plants at Home Depot, and came to Neva Kindergarten to plant the first seedlings.

“At first, there was not much structure,” he said. I often sit with children and look at the clouds. But in time, the garden became an outdoor science class. We all studied together. If something dies, we just try new. Place. We learned about worms, and bed bugs, and about praying mates. Then we learned about diets. I could not understand the diet of these children – all sugar and nutritious food. Some could not name a vegetable. But how do you blame them? There are 55 fast food restaurants in this community, but not one supermarket.

Hillary and her children began growing vegetables, and a few children actually got involved and invested in the garden, including Neva. She came up with everything Hillary had planned – camps, nature walks – and, although quiet and initially occupied, began to take ownership of the garden.

“Those are her plants, not mine,” he said. “Every time the volunteers come to help with the fertilizer – Nevah will be in the lead. And if you are making a mistake, she will immediately take that rake out of your hand.” That was 10 years ago. Since then, Hillary has developed a full-fledged youth organization in Harlem, growing from one garden to 12 urban farms. Children in the community help to plant and care for crops, learn science and agriculture with hands-on experience. Since its inception, Harlem has donated 6 6,000 worth of organic produce to the community for free. Even Nevah’s mother worked as a director of agriculture.

But Hillary told New York that Harlem Greens’ point is not just about food production but about raising healthy children.

“When you sit in this garden on a hot summer day, you hear things. There are fourteen homeless shelters within a four-block radius. So you can feel the stress of poverty when the outside is warm and the windows are open. At times, mothers cry out like adults. They call on their name. They say ‘no’ and ‘no’. And after a while the children begin to believe.

When you first enter this garden – they are very happy. Especially young people. But at the end of the day, they say, “I’m going home.” And home means shelter. It is a pandemic. In this city, 115,000 children live in shelters. It is a pandemic. But it is invisible. You never know when these kids will be homeless, because they are so happy.

But something happens around 9, 10, 11, I always see it. Those eyes were numb, man. Only life. There is a lot of stress here. And they grow fast. They lose that light. I just want to delay it, that’s all. I want them to have a safe place where they can be alone. That’s all we need, right? To make it easier for everyone to know who we are? ”

He proudly said that he had gone to Harlem to take care of his children. But over the past decade, he has learned that they do not need to be corrected or become like him – he understands that they need to remain young and happy. He weighed 52 pounds in front of Harlem Grons and was depressed, living a life of all things and money. The children taught him that he had made a mistake.

And Neva? She is now sixteen years old and an honorary student.

Hillary recently told New York, “So she has a C in her account,” so I said, ‘We need a private tutor, I’ll pay you.’ But she wouldn’t let me. She snatched the naked from my hand. “Oh, Tony, I found this myself,” she said. And she finally got 93.

When I met her, she was the smallest thing. With very large glasses. But even then she had everything she needed. He just needs a little protection. And a little while. She only needs some space to grow. “

Well, Mr. Tony, protecting the hearts and minds of Harlem’s children and helping them blossom.

Hear more about Harlem here than Helerry –

Harlem grew up

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