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Kindergarten teacher spearheads community garden, pantry in Jefferson Ave neighborhood

Garden of Hope
Posted at 10:28 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 18:52:28-04

BUFFALO, N.Y — A Buffalo Public School kindergarten teacher is on a mission to better his community and those around him following the horrific events at Tops on Jefferson Avenue.

“Everyone has been hit pretty hard by what happened a few weeks ago,” said James Harris, who teaches at Buffalo Public School 39. “This is their neighborhood Tops. I have a student who told me she and her mother were going to go there that morning.”

The Tops on Jefferson Avenue is only a mile away from BPS 39. Harris saw a need in his community, in his students, and says he wanted to help.

“So I thought what can I do for the community? How do I make sure that I honor things like Kat Massey cared about literacy and writing and education, how can I make sure that we honor her legacy. So I thought, maybe if we could start small by getting a little library.”

So he proposed the library, a free food pantry and garden to grow fresh fruits and vegetables outside the

“I want my kids to know that they’re safe. We can’t just sit down and take it, you have to meet the challenge. Our challenge right now is to make sure that our community is safe and that our community has its educational and nutritional needs met.”

Harris says he has the backing of the Buffalo School Board and administration to start these projects after the school year ends.

“Gardens to me represent peace and community, so I thought ‘why not start a community garden?’

We have all this space, so if we could encourage people to grow their own food, it’d be a more sustainable way for people to come together.”