Botany Day at McKinley’s Children’s Garden
On June 10th, Just Food staff participated in Botany Day at McKinley’s Children’s Garden in South Jamaica. Each year, McKinley’s, which was founded in 2005 by the late McKinley Hightower-Beyah, welcomes over 500 students from P.S. 40 Campus, Jamaica Children’s School, and P.S. 48 to celebrate the first blooms and learn about urban agriculture. The Just Food team was eager to get outside, engage with the community, and help one of their long-standing community partners.
Just Food along with volunteers from the neighborhood and from the Youth Service Opportunities Project, prepared garden beds, set up tents, and assisted with workshops. Representatives from the Department of Sanitation, Police Department, and Fire Department led participatory activities to teach the first through third graders about general safety issues. The Queens Public Library also lead a flower-themed craft and book reading session.
Fareed Anderson Beyah—who runs the garden along with his mother, Wajeedah, and sister, “Little” Wajeedah—led seed planting and gardening workshops throughout the day. Children learned how to identify weeds, vegetables, fruit, and herbs, and took home their very own lemon balm sprigs. At the end of the day, the third graders joined Just Food’s Urban Agriculture Manager Greg Anderson for a bench building workshop.
Botany Day marked the beginning of another bountiful and educational season at McKinley’s Children's Garden. Two weeks later, the garden hosted 500 neighbors for a Make Music New York event in celebration of the summer solstice. Vocalist Benita Charles performed. Make Music New York is a live, free musical celebration across New York City. “I like to book singer songwriters and types of music like folk or jazz, something different than what the kids are hearing on the radio,” says Wajeedah.
McKinley's Children's Garden will continue to host events throughout the season and welcomes community members who want to stop by to see what is growing. For more infomation, visit their website at http://www.mckinleyschildren.org/.