This is Harlem

This is Harlem

The crown jewel watches over the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 155th Street.  She’s surrounded by other lovelies–fine tomato vines and lush collards–but they don’t invite the same attention.  Nobody has anything on this peach tree.

She’s in the William A. Harris Garden, founded from an abandoned lot in 1977 by Mr. Harris, a retired sanitation worker.  According to Danny, a garden volunteer and Mr. Harris’ neighbor, for years he went through their lobby carrying fruits and vegetables.

Danny would ask, “Where did you get those?”

“Down the street in my garden,” Mr. Harris always replied.

“I thought he was crazy, so one day I had to check it out for myself.  And, sure enough, he had this whole thing growing,” Danny explains, gesturing over the lot.

Mr. Harris has bad knees these days, so his daughters take care of the garden.  Lori Harris is directing a big event this Labor Day weekend:  The Annual Peach Cobbler Cook-Off.  The neighborhood is going to find out who’s worthy of their peach tree.

The contest has three simple rules:

1) You have to pick your peaches from the tree tonight.

2) Everyone has to cook his cobbler in the same size pan.

3) You have to get your cobbler to her on time tomorrow to be judged.  Or else you’re out.

What do you win?  “Nothing but the bragging rights,” says Lori.

By the looks of this tree and the taste of one of the peaches, that’s plenty to go on.

Ripe for the Picking

"We'll put our peaches up against Georgia any day," says Lori Harris

A Native of Bracey, Virginia, Mr. Harris Transformed This Old Lot

A native of Bracey, Virginia, Mr. Harris transformed an abandoned lot