by Phyllis Odessey
Director of Horticulure
I would like to say I knew about Job’s Tears before planting it in The Learning Garden , but I did not. It’s a plant that has been cultivated for over 4000 years in Asia. Archaeolologists are familiar with Coix lacryma-jobi (Job’s Tears), because the seeds, often found at ancient sites, were used as necklaces. Or so they think.
It was Gerard Lordahl, Director of Open Space Greening at GrowNYC , who suggested we plant Job’s Tears. At first I did not understand why. Although in some parts of the world, Job’s Tears are used as a grain, tea, substitute coffee drink and even a digestif. I was pretty sure we would not be making of use of it in this way. Gerard assured me he had something else in mind.
“We can harvest the seeds and kids can make bracelets and necklaces.” And we did. These beautiful, multi-shaded gray beads have a natural hole that only needs to be pricked out using a piece of fishing line.
Our students enjoyed combining the jobs tears with plastic beads for jewelery. We enjoyed the plant. It was easy to grow, graceful in the wind, related in form to our rice plants and harvesting the “tears” was enough to make you teary eyed.