Heirloom tomatoes named after the famous Princeton activist and actor, Paul Robson, will be planted by PPS students in the school gardens this spring as part of the Robeson Freedom Garden Campaign. Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson, 6-12 Supervisor of Science, and the Paul Robeson House of Princeton will distribute tomato seeds to students in schools and families in the Princeton community and to anyone who requests them.
"We invite every citizen of the planet to join us in this campaign of dignity and freedom that celebrates community and collective action toward reaching the goal of making Robeson a household name,” states the Robeson Freedom Garden Campaign flyer.
Dr. Barnes-Johnson, working with PPS faculty, other NJ educators, PPS garden educators, and community members, launched the Princeton project during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Princeton Middle School.
“The point of the Freedom Garden is not only to provide a harvest for individuals, but to do what in Indigenous cultures is called an honorable harvest, where you take what you need but make available to anyone what they may need to eat for that day or to be free for that day," said Dr. Barnes-Johnson.
Robeson Freedom Gardeners will gather in September 2023 to celebrate Robeson tomato gardens planted during the year.
Seed catalogs note that the Robeson heirloom tomato has a cult following among tomato connoisseurs. It's a large tomato with a flavor described as "distinctive, sweet and smokey."
Robeson was born in Princeton in 1898 and is known for his advocacy of oppressed people all over the world. The celebration of the Robeson tomato and the creation of Freedom Gardens coincides with the 125th anniversary of Paul Robeson's birth.
"We hope to have a cultural impact, an historical reference point, and also to bring together various organizations and entities from different communities,” said Dr. Barnes-Johnson.
Thank you to Dr. Barnes-Johnson, the Paul Robeson House of Princeton, Mr. Jason Burr, Torie Esposito, Daniela Garcia Perez, Alberta Liu, Berenice Liu, Deb Gries, Kayla Lopez Azogue, Asma Qureshi, Aaliyah Franklin, and Sheeba Ash.
- District News