She wants to grow the memory of her murdered mom by planting a farm in Central Park.
Six years after Amber Tamm’s dad shot and killed her mother, the 25-year-old rooftop farmer has asked the city for a plot near the Great Lawn where she can raise vegetables — and sow the seeds of honor for the woman who raised her.
“It is the only work where I can process a lot of different traumas simultaneously — the trauma of my parents and being a descendant of African American slaves and also giving people something they actually need, which is greens, food,” Tamm said.
She hopes to name her patch “Seneca Village,” after the black community that once owned the land and called it home before the city built the park.
The farm will pay tribute not only to her mom but also her father — and recast her family’s legacy, Tamm envisions.
“It has always been my motive to bring honor to his name,” she said.
Tamm was away at College of the Atlantic in Maine when her father, retired NYPD cop Kevin Canty, 49, shot and killed her mother, Jessica Mera Canty, 40, at their Ozone Park home as their youngest kids — ages 4 and 8 — looked on, authorities said.
After burying her mother in Long Island, Tamm never returned to Bar Harbor. Instead, she moved in with her aunt, uncle and turned toward a childhood interest — farming — to help her heal.
“Maybe a year-and-a-half later, I decided to embark on farming, and I didn’t expect it to be permanent, but I fell in love with this work,” she said.
Tamm, who is now based in Harlem, splits time working at Brooklyn Grange farms, located on three rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens, and giving sign language tours at the Whitney Museum.
She is also working with the city parks department to draft an application that will meet the strict standards for Central Park — which she chose because of its prominence and history.
Before submitting a formal proposal Tamm is preparing to release a petition to build public support — something she knows she can do after raising $120,000 in six days via a GoFundMe campaign that would help her kickstart her own farm, separate from the “Seneca Village” plots.
“They are propositioning that I have a proposal for something temporary, like raised beds, and have an educational pivot or be characterized as an art installation,” she said.
For Tamm, farming is a spiritual experience.
“I put my mother in the earth, and so the earth is my mother,” she said. “The trees speak to each other through their roots, and I can speak to my mom through my fingers working with the earth.”
Tamm described both of her parents as her “best friends” and said they were a tight-knit family, despite their dark secret.
Growing up, Tamm said she witnessed violence between the couple, who had been together since high school, but “they tried their best to shield us from their personal problems . . . There were some big moments in our life where it was present,” she said.
Nonetheless, the tragedy “stunned” Tamm.
“I never thought my dad would do it — but I was mostly stunned how all of New York City knew what happened to my parents before I did,” Tamm said.
“My father’s face was on the cover of every newspaper, and I might have been one of the last people to know.”
She later learned, in the pages of local newspapers, that Canty claimed he killed his wife because she was having an affair, an allegation Tamm denies.
“The quote you will see is ‘my wife is cheating on me, so I had to kill her.’ I can fully tell you my mom was not cheating, but I can tell you after working such an intense job after 20 years, it was eating away at his mental health,” she said of her father.
The claim has haunted Tamm in the years after the death of her mother, with whom she shared a tight bond.
“The night before she was murdered, she sent me an email, and that email was just a lot of love, ‘you’re my first daughter,’ that kind of thing. My mom made sure she told me she loved me every day,” Tamm said.
“It was hard for us to be separate [when I went away to school]. My mom was more of my best friend than my mom.”
Tamm believes her father was driven to insanity by his high-pressure job.
“That whole system is corrupt and caused him to lose his mind, and I think if my dad were part of the conversation, he would say the same,” she said.
“You have a black man from New York City arresting other people to feed his own family, and I think what can really bring someone down is knowing your paycheck can come from someone else’s mistake or mishap or mental illness,” Tamm said.
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