Drawn illustration of green pears, with small city in the background. In the center is a larger pineapple with white with red center hibiscus flowers, and green spiked leaves coming out. Behind the center pineapple are light looking pink bougainvillea flowers. All in front of other green leaves and rows of plantings below. A large green tree is along the other side of the image as a framing device.

African American Garden:
The Caribbean Experience

Now Open

Open All Day for Exploration | At the Edible Academy

Welcome to the African American Garden: The Caribbean Experience. Take some time to stop here and wander for a spell. Here in these eight beds, you will find stories of resilience and resistance, modification and migration, remembrance, reverence, and more told through the plants of our world.

Our Caribbean region is one of vast cultural diversity. In our part of the world from the middle of the 17th century well into the 20th, the main cash crop was sugar cane, initially cultivated by the forced agricultural labor of our enslaved ancestors. Here in our garden, you will find the sugar cane that ruled our lives for centuries and grew in the fields where we worked. You will discover our tropical bounty and find plants that we grew near our homes to feed ourselves, others we used as medicine, and still others that allowed us to express our creativity by weaving baskets, dyeing fabrics, and making musical instruments that rhythmed a hemisphere.

Stop for a sip of something at the drink stand. Muse on our connection to our landscape as expressed in lyrical language in the Poetry Walk that rings the perimeter of the garden beds. As you stroll, you will enter our plant world past and present and learn our history and a bit about our wondrous region. We hope that you will leave informed and delighted, amused, and amazed.

Discover the Plants

Explore the African American Garden: The Caribbean Experience and the species planted here with this interactive map.

1. Cane 2. Roots 3. Stewpot 4. Flavor 5. Creativity 6. Abundance 7. Remedies 8. Transformation

List of Beds

Explore the Garden

Within the eight beds, you’ll find stories of resilience and resistance, modification and migration, remembrance, reverence, and more told through the plants of the region—including those used for food, medicine, music, and craftwork.

Enjoy Caribbean Cuisine

Upcoming Events

Poetry Walk

Explore Caribbean-inspired Poetry curated by Cave Canem.

Learn More

The African American Garden in the New York Botanical Garden, filled with vegetation. A sign in front of the vegetation that states "Making & Mending, we wore baskets with grasses and vegetable material. Some were used to gold thing in our homes and for storage in the places we worked. Others were important for our winnowing grains, processing tobacco, and in other task. We also wed plant fibers to create fishing nets and to weave fabric for clothing that we then died with colors made from still other plants."

Project Team

  1. Jessica B. Harris, Ph.D., is celebrated as America’s leading scholar on the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. Author of 12 critically acclaimed books, she has lectured on African American food and culture across the U.S. and abroad, and her work has appeared in numerous publications. Among her awards and accolades are an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University and the DeMasters Award from the Association of Food Journalists. Dr. Harris was recently inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Hall of Fame and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021.” High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, the popular Netflix series inspired by her most-recent book, has been renewed for a second season.

  2. Cave Canem is a nonprofit organization, committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. Founded by artists for artists, Cave Canem fosters community across the diaspora to enrich the field by facilitating a nurturing space in which to learn, experiment, create, and present. Cave Canem develops audiences for Black voices that have worked and are working in the craft of poetry.


2023 Consultants & Seeds Stewards:
Maricel E. Presilla, Ph. D.
Kenneth Walker
Anna McClung, USDA
Glenn Roberts, Anson Mills
USDA National Plant Germplasm System
Truelove Seeds
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange
Henry Obispo, Founder of ReBORN FARMS

Garden graphics provided by the GrowVeg.com Garden Planner

The African American Garden structural elements, originally conceptualized by Lawrence Moten III, has been re-imagined for this year by the curator, local artists, and NYBG team.

Bottle Tree:
Judith S. Kaye High School, Principal Andrew Brown
School of Cooperative Technical Education, Principal Corey Prober

Welding Teachers:
Amadou Barry and Greg Gauntlett

Raymond Bishop, Victor Borys, Isaiah Cruz, Abdoulaye Diallo, Mason Malave, Matthew Napolitano, Christopher Reyes

The African American Garden is made possible with support from the Mellon Foundation and The Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture Program of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.