I belong to the Red Shed Community Garden, a tiny slice of heaven in a sea of aluminum siding in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. People’s plots contain the usual lettuces and such, but increasingly often, something spectacular catches my eye: foot long green beans, striped tomatoes, teensy white cucumbers or husk cherries springing from beautiful blue flowers.

All across the country, urban farmers are literally changing the landscape of cities by cultivating the unusual in unexpected places. With cities growing at an unprecedented rate, urban farming can play an important role in reducing the enormous carbon footprint of food, while preserving vestiges of culture and heritage.

Read on to learn more about the beautiful crops being grown by East New York’s West Indian residents. And damn, if those kids’ smile doesn’t make you want to dash outside and plant some seeds.

Credit: Robert Wright for The New York Times