The mentoring program works to grow beyond the garden

Charlotte, NC – On a lawn outside the fence around Fredericker Alexander Park in the community garden, a cherry tree is dying and Rage Singleton knows why.

The brown and bare branches of the tree stand apart from the two peach trees planted next to it, already growing very small fruit trees already under the green leaves in early spring.

The 18 young men, part of the current men’s section of the fence, are carefully digging into the newly produced soil, adding seeds and seedlings of various vegetables in clean rows. They are sowing a spring garden this year.

All of this is done in accordance with the single guide, the director of the men’s venue and a recognized gardener studying the agricultural traditions of communities and cultures around the world. Over the past decade, he has taken gardens along the difficult Beat Ford Road to Ghana and Cuba. He traveled to Alabama and Washington, DC, where he studied Reconstruction Agriculture and Land Gift University.

That is why Singleton was upset that he did not know what was happening to the cherry tree. The lone tree was planted 10 years ago, and this year it began to decline continuously until it reached Nadir.

Pointing to his broken legs, Singleton said: “We learned a painful lesson there about that tree.” “We did not plant a friend for him. It takes two to get the pollen.

Singleton does not give up on anyone or anything, though. It does not cut down the dying cherry tree; He wants to encourage it to blossom.

“We will plant another,” he said.

The same thing applies to men and young people Singleton The Men’s work’s’s weekly meeting to encourage them to grow and flourish.

The organization started with the Mekelle City Department of Health for the Reproductive Health Clinic, with the primary focus on providing information and condoms to reduce teen pregnancy rates. Singleton joined in 1993 and realized that the Black Men’s’s target was more than just reproductive health information.

Singleton says: “As I was raising these boys, I realized that we needed to give them the skills they needed. “We need to give them more than just the right to do what is right. Here are some skills that will support you in life.

Because the time may come when those who know how to cook will eat and their families will have clean and healthy food.

Although the organization’s official mission statement is “a journey to masculinity”, it is unique in that it is one of the three pillars of established agriculture (mentoring and social justice). Many, but not all, boys are involved in their lives without fathers, and elders who volunteer their time to advise and teach are critical to their success.

A.D. In 2009, the men’s venue began building a community park at Fredericker Alexander Park. Now, 50 percent of the boys spend time with the group in the garden.

Every Wednesday, they meet to learn life skills and cultural enrichment. And they are always at Frederick Alexander Park to work in the garden every Saturday morning.

Singleton, 60, grew up in the Charleston South Carolina Islands and worked part-time as a refugee to help raise money for his family. He realized throughout his life that working on the ground not only taught him self-sufficiency but also created a strong sense of community when he shared his talents and energy. This is what he intends to share with young men in the place of men.

“This is not just a garden,” says Singleton. “There is a saying in the Hispanic saying that the farmer or gardener realizes that he will get more out of his garden. And what we are talking about is not just about plants, but about relationships and everything.

AJ Simons began working with Males Place as an “elder” – the program’s so-called consultants – shortly after he moved to Charlotte in 2015. His work with boys aged 12-18 was a tribute to his master’s work. Thesis writes on how UNC Charlotte’s degree in community psychology in agriculture facilitates growth for young men.

When Simons met the “warriors,” the name “mshauri” came from the Swahili advisory, a group of young men in a men’s space program.

“From seed to fruit and from home to family?” Says Simon. “There is a certain level of competence that comes with this. Many of our young people do not accept that in many other places.”

Siemens is eager to educate the men on “critical and cultural knowledge that certainly does not belong to schools,” including African Americans and recent American history.

The land was divided into four parts, each belonging to one of Africa’s four largest tribes. For the past 13 years, the group has visited Selma, Alabama to learn about the Black Voting and bloody Sunday demonstrations. To visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC; And to find out more about those institutions and their offerings at historic black colleges. The next year, they hope to travel to Egypt to learn about the centuries-old agricultural practices.

And Singleton always confirms that every year Males Place fighters plant cotton in their gardens. Not to use the harvest, but to educate the young, who were enslaved by many of their ancestors.

“Many did not know about the history of cotton. Now, not only has cotton played a role in creating wealth differences between blacks and whites, but also historically from a cultural point of view, it has to endure the sun and snakes. “And only that cruelty”


A.D. In 2009, Denzel Ross was a junior at West Mekelleberg High School, where his mother joined Singleton at a health clinic and pushed him to join a men’s venue. Initially, he was only concerned about the program, but he soon became involved not only with the garden but also with the people he met; He still spends as much time with the group as possible.

“I learned to share advice, to be positive because sometimes we are in a certain situation and we feel like no one else,” says Ross. “You want to be close to your peers. So I try to share some insights, I try to give some positive and encouraging words.

Ross is now 30 years old, holds a degree in mechanical engineering and is in the Texas National Guard. Singleton still calls Ross a “boy.”

Ross: “I’m trying to reach the level that I saw before, and I think you can say that.

Adonis Adams is 17 years old and has played in the men’s arena for the past four years. The Indian Trail Porter Ridge High School senior did not know much about working with plants or gardening until he learned the program.

“My mother always wanted me to grow a garden, so I did a little research on it, but I did not participate until I got into The Males,” says Adams. “So this was a great learning experience.”

For example, he learned how to properly water each plant and that the sweetest okra should be chosen early; If left on the plants for a long time, they will become very fiber and chew.

Adams says: “There are so many things that most people do not really know.

This year, young men in the men’s area are preparing soil and seeds with the help of elders in carefully measured rows of soil on a few high beds. They are sowing tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, beans and corn. Many blueberry bushes are gathered in the middle of an underground garden.

There is also the hibiscus tree, which a few years ago gave the first sample of hibiscus tea. The charity has a 14-year-old grandson, Cole Allen, who has been with Males Place for the past few years.

“He opened my eyes,” said the 71-year-old. “Now I drink hibiscus tea.”

Much of the garden is produced by young men and their families in the program, or by nearby seniors or low-income community members. Some are sold at Rosa Parks Farmers Market at 1600 West Trade St., while young people sell fresh produce from partner farmers and learn about entrepreneurship.

And at the end of each fall, the wild-selling necklace helps provide fresh greens for the holiday dinner.

Charity, although it should choose fresh greens, prefers cabbage from the garden.

“Oh, it’s only blue,” said Charity.

Varnell bin-Amee does not want to take full credit for how delicious all the vegetables grown in Fred Alexander Park are, but it does not diminish the likelihood that he will personally have the same effect. It is the elder’s turn to water the garden, and he walks up and down the rows, talking to each growing plant.

“Hey, you’re doing a good job!” He tells them. “Come on!”

“Only words of encouragement,” he laughed. “It simply came to our notice then. As long as they are growing up, I will continue to talk. ”

Aside from superstitious words, Beyoncé points out that the place of men is marked by a change in the lives of his 18-year-old son Nihel and his life. The team emphasizes the search for opportunities to “do well” on a weekly basis. With that in mind, Bien-Aime himself has helped people change tires on the sidewalk, and Nigel has seen more and more ways to look for such positive moments every day.

And every week when you come to the garden, you can appreciate all the work that you have done, both inside and outside the garden.

“It’s very peaceful,” he said. “This is where I feel that the men’s position has paid off. Just have another exit to escape. Because you can download this block and turn right, and it’s just chaos – getting into a car, moving on this and on the highway. But you came out here and only peace… ”

Although it is not always easy. It takes a lot of care and attention to make everything bloom. Sometimes cherry trees die. But more often than not, you can see the fruits of their labors grow strong.

Singleton “Many people say, ‘I love farming, I love what you do.’ “Man, this is difficult. It’s hard. Not as beautiful as it sounds. We are growing more than plants. Boys Are Growing Up ”

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