How 400 Students and a Haunted Garden Built the Latest CNN Hero

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If you flicked to CNN this past weekend, you might have seen a familiar-looking guy. If you don’t know, now you know: It was Tony Hillery! Tony was named this week’s CNN Hero.

Tony Hillery speaking at the Change Food Fest 2016.

A dear friend of Change Food from the start, you’re sure to have heard us gush about the community Tony has built with his non-profit, Harlem Grown. In fact, our founder Diane Hatz maintains she’ll never get over the love Tony receives from the kids with whom he works, after she witnessed unexpected, enthusiastic greetings walking down the street in Harlem. Nearly every child they passed, Diane insists, shouted “Hi Mr. Tony!” as if he were their favorite uncle.

It takes a special breed to use urban farming and education in a way which introduces children, many of whom are homeless and without familial support, to the possibilities that lie beyond the food prisons in which they live. And you’d think it would take another person entirely to employ young men, all of whom have dropped out of high school and been arrested, to be the inspiring interns for these children. But that’s all Tony, and we feel as fortunate to know him as they. 

How did (does) Tony Hillery do it? The birth of Harlem Grown involved 400 students, a conversation about a tomato’s origins, and a Haunted Garden.

 Watch and read about it on CNN!


Change Food® works toward a healthier food system for people, animals & the planet.  Learn more about Plant Eat Share – planting food in public spaces. For free.