Book launch celebrates urban diversity and community gardens


Community gardens and urban diversity go hand in hand. With the influx of refugees pouring into Buffalo, the role of the urban garden took on a new role. These neighborhood gardens have become oases where immigrants and refugees socialize, plant seeds, and reap bountiful rewards in the process.

To recognize and honor the diversity of gardens and the people who interact with them, first author and founder of BRRAlliance, Mary Ann Kedron, PhD, wrote a children’s book that tells the stories of these magical gardens. Kendron was inspired to write my name is cilantro after witnessing the positive effects the community gardens run by BRRAlliance have had on the residents of Black Rock.

The book is “…the story of an enchanting little herb, cilantro, who learns to be proud of who she is by realizing the love of the multicultural community around her.”

“Cilantro’s story is about diversity, empowerment and learning about self-esteem through the eyes of an enchanting little plant,” Kedron said. “This [book] the launch celebrates what is possible when community organizations work together, because none of this would have been possible without the BRRAlliance and Grassroots Gardens creating community gardens that inspire stories like this, and the Paul & Helen Ellis Charitable Trust, who funded part of this book so that we can go to the gardens this summer and share the message that Cilantro needs to bring to children and families in our community.

The launch of my name is cilantro is attributed to Kedron’s penchant for writing advocacy grants, research studies, and policies and procedures. This new form of writing (the book) is part of a series that Kedron plans to publish. As a passionate gardener and teacher, she now strives to enlighten younger audiences about the powers of the community garden.

Image of a book page, with coriander in a garden
Artwork by Mary Ouimette-Kinney

To artistically enhance the children’s book, Kedron enlisted ink and watercolourist Mary Ouimette-Kinney to provide the whimsical illustrations, which help bring the Cilantro character to life. Ouimette-Kinney is both an activist and an artist – she co-founded, with her husband Lawrence Kinney, the University Heights Arts Association. The organization serves more than 2,000 children and families annually through each of four fine arts and gardening arts programs. This is one of the reasons why she was so perfect to participate in the book project.

As the book launch takes place this morning (Wednesday, April 6), there will be another chance to chat with the writer and illustrator during a book signing at Book Worm in East Aurora on April 9 from 11 a.m. at 13h.

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