Episode for January 11, 2023

Episode 758: Urban Gardening and how to grow a community with Harlem Grown’s Tony Hillery

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Today’s guest is very special.  I learned of Tony Hillery when he contacted me and told me that listening to my show at the time in part inspired him to start Harlem Grown. To my that is a wrap! I need nothing else to feel important in the world than to know I played a tiny role in helping create the idea for such a wonderful organization. 

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Tony Hillery is the Founder and CEO of Harlem Grown. Tony founded Harlem Grown to address the health and academic challenges facing public elementary school students in Harlem. In 2011, Tony began volunteering with a local elementary school and was witnessing first-hand the lack of resources allocated to the schools and the poor nutrition of students. He noticed an abandoned and overrun community garden across the street from the school. Tony rallied volunteers and raised the funds needed to transform the lot into a thriving urban farm, kicking off Harlem Grown’s first-ever growing season. The first year, Tony worked with 400 students to plant 400 seedlings. He watched as students transformed their eating habits and learned skills like patience, teamwork, and responsibility. The first season, they grew 38 lbs of produce. Six years later, in 2017, Harlem Grown has expanded to partner with five local Harlem schools, reached over 4,900 youth, composted over 20,000 lbs of food scraps and grew over 5,400 pounds of fruits and vegetables that are then distributed to families-in-need throughout the community. His work in the community has impacted more than just the youth, Tony has done his part to help transform Harlem community through the power of growing food and building healthy relationships.

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