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Earth Day in North Richmond is about honoring past, looking to future

on April 22, 2012

More than 100 residents and activists turned out in force to work and celebrate Earth Day in North Richmond on Saturday.

But they had a lot of help from those no longer here in body, but very much loom over this historic community in spirit.

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Jimmie Cry, left, helps two kids pick up trash in North Richmond. (Robert Rogers/Richmondconfidential)

“It feels so good that the community thinks so much of my brother to want to dedicate this garden to him,” said Leo Jackson, brother of longtime community advocate Fred Jackson, who died of cancer last year. “Fred’s spirit is alive here today.”

The morning began at the Ervin Coley III Peace Garden on Vernon Street, named for the North Richmond native and community gardener killed in an unsolved drive-by shooting in March 2011. Community gardeners and volunteers built nine flower boxes and planted vegetable and fruit seeds in the garden, which sits on a converted vacant lot.

In the afternoon, similar work continued at another garden, this one in the 1600 block of Fred Jackson Way. The garden has been named the Fred D. Jackson Harmony Garden, said Iyalode Kinney, founder of Communities United Restoring Mother Earth.

“More than two years ago, Fred was with me, and he said this garden was our dream, and that God would help us to build this with the community, for the community,” Kinney said.

Funding for the garden construction and maintenance, which provides jobs for local teens and young adults, is provided by a mitigation fund from a nearby waste transfer facility.

“This garden, and what it represents in the community, is the kind of thing that Fred stood for,” said Luz Gomez, a field representative for County Supervisor John Gioia.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Richmond City Council candidate Marilyn Langlois were also on hand Saturday.

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Members of Fred Jackson's family were joined by others in dedicating the Fred D. Jackson Harmony Garden Saturday. (Robert Rogers/Richmondconfidential)

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