Hidden life at J.Hop

Who is the mysterious gardener who works the plot behind Building 7?


Karmin Jerido | JHT

This portrait photo inspired poetry at the annual Through our Eyes Exhibit at [email protected].

Karmin Jerido, Dasonti Thompson, Jalyssa Ross, JHT Staff Writers

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series written, but never printed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The students may have graduated or moved schools, but wrote for JHT at the time. Out of respect for their work, we are publishing their stories now.

 J.Hop scholars may not know about the booming vegetable garden behind Building 7. This vegetable garden is cultivated by a man many students may not know. His name is aMcKinley Hayward, and he’s Coach Forte’s father. 

Mr. Hayward keeps the garden as a volunteer. He’s 88 years old and says his secret to life is to “be obedient to God and you will live a long time.” He also thinks that education is a top priority. He says, “without education you have nothing.” 

  McKinley says when he was younger the opportunities were great, Mr. McKinley grows cabbages, purple cabbages, eggplants, tomatoes and collard greens. He also grows plants that aren’t edible but are pleasing to look at, like sunflowers and other flowers. 

The garden club is run by Coach Forte. When asked how she feels about her father tending the garden, she said she loves it. “He has something to look forward to every day. At his age it’s good to have something to look forward to.”

Coach Forte started the garden with the garden club, but it ended up taking too much time to maintain, which is where Mr. Hayward stepped in.