AmericanTown’s Heroes: Yonnette Fleming is a Community Steward

The short and sweet mission of the Hattie Carthan Community Garden is “to supply fresh food and value added products to our garden members and our community farmers market.” A longer list of objectives can be found on their website, including:

* To preserve the agricultural heritage of Brooklyn.
* To serve as an intergenerational space for reflection, inspiration, education, and training for those who visit.
* To preserve the biodiversity of life, whose continuing decline threatens the health of our agricultural and natural ecosystems.
* To provide an outdoor learning classroom where children and adults become exposed to a working garden.
* To make a connection between the complexity of the natural world and our role as nature’s caretakers.

The last bullet point is of particular importance to one of the main stewards of the land and driving force behind the gardens. Yonnette Fleming, was a worker in the financial district until her desire to support the community full time took over and she left her job in 2008 to throw herself into garden.

Over time Fleming has had a hand in turning the earth as well as turning vacant lots into community gardens, maintaining the legacy of the original inspiration for the garden, Hattie Carthan whose devotion to saving a tree led to a revitalization of the neighborhood. One plot of land currently under cultivation produces medicinal herbs, while others yield produce for sale. In all cases, the gardens incorporate programs for bringing children along on the journey of yielding life from dirt—teaching sustainability and community.

Fleming is an inspiration to her neighbors and others who want to see a greening of our communities, with people getting closer to each other and the land.

Do you know someone who works to grow healthier communities? Nominate them for next week’s AmericanTown’s Heroes.

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