Saying Farewell to Mr. Jay Jackfruit

Portrait of Jay Jordan

This month we are saying farewell to one of our beloved Garden Educators, Jay “Jackfruit” Jordan. 

Photo of Jay teaching a gardening class

Jay came to CommunityGrows in 2015 as a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s African American Studies program. Since then he has managed four of our community gardens, including the ones at Rosa Parks Elementary School — meaning he did a lot of construction, planning, maintenance, and getting his hands dirty!

Photo of Jay teaching a gardening class

Through the curriculum he designed for our seven-week Environmental Education program, Jay taught over 400 students from kindergarten to 5th grade how to grow food responsibly and organically.

Photo of Jay with Ms. Erin Miranda's first grade class at Rosa Parks

Jay would often teach his students ways of celebrating the earth, and being thankful for how the garden takes care of us as we take care of it.

The Eleven Practices for an Honorable Harvest

  1. Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so you can take care of them.
  2. Introduce yourself; let the plants know who you are.
  3. Ask permission before taking. Listen to the answer.
  4. Never take the first. Never take the last.
  5. Take only what you need, and take only what is given.
  6. Never take more than half; leave plenty for others.
  7. Harvest in a way that is safe for everyone.
  8. Use what you harvest; never waste it.
  9. Share.
  10. Give thanks for what you have been given.
  11. Give a gift in reciprocity for what you have taken.

Inspired to take the next step on his personal journey, Jay recently decided to further his education and was accepted into Louisiana State University’s Landscape Architecture master’s program. But he also wanted to find a way to continue the kind of work we do at CommunityGrows, so he reached out to faculty members in the sociology department about creating CG-inspired youth development programs, and they were thrilled with his ideas!

Photo of Jay teaching a cooking class

Jay is now enrolled in a PhD program in sociology (way to go, Jay!) and will be working with undergraduates to start teaching gardens at high needs schools, spreading our mission here at CommunityGrows to new places!

Photo of Jay tabling for CommunityGrows at a neighborhood event

We applaud Jay’s dedication to youth and the environment, and we wish him the best on his journey! Congratulations, Mr. Jackfruit and thank you for all that you gave to our kids and community!

“Over the past two years, my time with CommunityGrows has blessed me with a tremendous amount of growth, warmth, and happiness. The team at CommunityGrows is truly a family and I feel so grateful to have worked with them and to have gained lifelong friends. These friendships have inspired me to be the best Garden Educator and Site Manager I can be, and words can’t express how grateful I am to have spent been a part of such a loving and supportive team. This has been a dream job for me, and I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to offer children tools for the cultivation of their own happiness and health by connecting them to the miracles of gardening!”

— Jay Jordan
CommunityGrows Garden Educator and Site Manager, 2015-2017