Students, teachers and volunteers with the Gardere Initiative gathered Monday for a daylong celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

About 50 students and adults ended a morning ceremony by joining hands in a giant unity circle and singing, among other songs, “We Shall Overcome,” a gospel song that became the anthem of the civil rights movement.

“But this is not just a celebration of Dr. King,” said Murelle Harrison, a member of the initiative. “This is also a day of service for our community, in the tradition of Dr. King.”

With that, the students trekked across Hartley-Vey Park to the Gardere Community Garden and spent about an hour pulling up winter greens to begin prepping the space for spring plants.

Charles Manchester, a volunteer from Faith Chapel Church, has been gardening all his life and plans the community garden every year. Manchester showed students how to best pull up the plants, which included mustard greens, turnips, radishes and small cabbage.

Several students excitedly ran toward their teachers when they pulled up plants to find turnips and radishes attached.

“They may act like they don’t like getting in the dirt, but they do enjoy it,” Manchester said.

They particularly enjoy it in the spring, when they will bring a microwave to the initiative and cook corn cobs fresh from the garden for students to taste.

“When we have all this cleaned up, we’ll be planting tomatoes, corn, peas, beans and okra,” Manchester said. “We’ll be able to give students some produce to take home to their parents. They really do have fun with it, and they get to eat fresh food and see how it’s grown.”