CP&GC members were inspired by Boston artist and community activist Ekua Holmes whose Roxbury Sunflower Project has planted hundreds of sunflowers in the historically Black neighborhood as symbols of hope, resilience, and empowerment. (In Spring 2021, Ms. Holmes expanded her sunflower planting with Elizabeth James-Perry, an Aquinnah Wampanoag artist, activist, and tribe member, on the grounds of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.) Together with Ms. Holmes, the club forged a partnership with the Prospect Hill Academy (PHA), one of the oldest and largest charter schools operating in Massachusetts. (PHA is a tuition-free, college preparatory school with a student body drawn from racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods.)
CP&GC created an after-school curriculum for study of the sunflower, with a dynamic and diverse team, including Ms. Holmes, Carmen Mouzon from the Farm School, and Molly Edwards, a PhD candidate at Harvard University’s Kramer Lab and producer of the educational Science in Real Life (IRL) on YouTube. Eight lessons were held remotely during the winter of 2020–21 with a group of middle school girls. The sessions included looking at the sunflower through the lenses of art, botany, mathematics, farming, and social justice.
At the end of the program, the young women designed a garden full of sunflowers and other annuals to be planted in the spring when they could comfortably and safely meet outdoors. Happily, the team met in person in late May to plant that garden at the entrance of Prospect Hill Academy building in Cambridge. The results were enjoyed through the summer and the beginning of the school year, and we look forward to a continued partnership.