Call him the Original Gardener.
Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and the cast of his show “The Last O.G.” visited a community garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant last week. The network behind the show, about an “Original Gangster” who returns to his Brooklyn neighborhood after years away, teamed up with the do-gooder group GrowNYC to build and plant 30 new garden beds at the Hattie Carthan Community Garden. The March 28 event celebrated both the renovations and the launch of the sitcom’s second season on the Turner Broadcasting System.
Morgan, who grew up in the neighborhood, joked around while he and his family packaged fruits and other produce for nearby soup kitchens and food banks. For locals, his appearance demonstrated hope for the community, according to one witness.
“Tracy Morgan didn’t have to come back, but he did,” Dorian Vaz said. “The best part of the event, besides Tracy Morgan of course, was to see people coming out as a whole and rising up.”
Vaz, who travels across the boroughs with City Harvest — a group that supports community gardens throughout New York City — said he is optimistic about the growth of this particular garden and believes it can help transform the area.
“The community is coming together and not looking washed up,” Vaz said. “There’s still hope. When you see a rose grow out of concrete, the world is yours and it’s growing.”
The Lafayette Avenue garden, which opened in 2009, is one of the largest in Brooklyn. It is maintained by Bedford-Stuyvesant residents like Ernest Anderson, who has tended plants there for eight years. Anderson, a Korean War veteran, said he grew up on a farm and that gardening keeps him connected to his roots.
“I wanted to put my hands back in the dirt again,” he said.
Anderson visits every day during the warmer months to check on his tomatoes, collard greens, cayenne peppers and cucumbers. He said he was happy to see young people at the community event.
“We try to keep the young people involved and show them where we came from,” Anderson said. “I’m just a gardener, but I love seeing parents bring their kids out; [like] my father was involved when I was young.”