Community gardens and urban diversity go hand-in-hand. With the influx of refugees filtering into Buffalo, the role of the urban garden has taken on a new role. These neighborhood gardens have become oases where immigrants and refugees socialize, plant seeds, and reap bountiful rewards in the process.
As a way to recognize and pay tribute to the diversity of the gardens, and the people that interact with them, first time author and BRRAlliance founder Mary Ann Kedron, PhD has written a children’s book that tells the tales of these magical gardens. Kendron was inspired to write My Name is Cilantro after witnessing the positive effects that BRRAlliance-managed community gardens had on Black Rock residents.
The book is “…the story of an enchanting little herb, Cilantro, who learns to be proud of who she is as she realizes the love of the multi-cultural community around her.”
“The story of Cilantro speaks to diversity, empowerment and learning self-esteem through the eyes of an enchanting little plant,” said Kedron. “This [book] launch celebrates what is possible when community based organizations work together, since none of this would have been possible without the BRRAlliance and Grassroots Gardens creating community gardens that inspire stories like this one, and the Paul & Helen Ellis Charitable Trust, who have funded a portion of this book so that we can go into the gardens this summer and share the message Cilantro has to give with children and families in our community.”
The launch of My Name is Cilantro is credited to Kedron’s penchant for writing advocacy grants, research studies, and policies and procedures. This new form of writing (the book) is one of a series that Kedron plans on publishing. As an avid gardener and teacher, she is now directing her efforts to enlightening a younger audience per the powers of the community garden.
To artistically enhance the children’s book, Kedron enlisted the help of ink and watercolorist Mary Ouimette-Kinney to provide the whimsical illustrations, which help to bring the character of Cilantro to life. Ouimette-Kinney is an activist as well as an artist – she is the co-founder, along with husband Lawrence Kinney, of the University Heights Arts Association. The organization serves more than 2000 children and families per year through each of four fine art and gardening art programs. It’s one of the reasons that she was such a perfect fit to come onboard with the book project.
While the book launch is taking place this morning (Wednesday April 6), there will be another chance to engage with the writer and the illustrator at a book signing at the Book Worm in East Aurora on April 9 from 11am-1pm.