Archive for March, 2009

Support Your Community Garden

March 27, 2009


Yesterday marked the groundbreaking ceremony at the Phoenix Garden in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. Even though the air was chilly and the sky was grey, a sizable number of people turned out to celebrate the community garden. A pair of garden gloves was handed out as people entered the garden. Of course, I scored a cute pair of purple ones. Apple cider, muffins, and pretzels were served by Daniel Strecker, Youthmarket Operations Coordinator for the CENYC, as the crowd waited for the ceremony to begin.

Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of the CENYC introduced Adrian Benepe, Parks & Recreation Commissioner. Mr. Benepe gave the students from PS 155’s garden club, who were in attendance, a pop quiz with questions like where do apples grow. In unison the students responded “on trees!”. Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker, then spoke about the city’s combined mission of ending both hunger and obesity through projects like the Phoenix Garden. The redevelopment of the garden was made possible by capital funding from Ms. Quinn and the City Council. Darlene Mealy, District 41 Council Member, offered up words of encouragement to the PS 155 garden club members. Robert Kafin, CENYC Chairman, covered a number of exciting additions that will be made to the garden including: a gazebo, a trellis for climbing plants, picnic tables, 1,000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank, enhanced compost site, and an outdoor classroom. This year the garden will have 50 individual plots.


Jerry Summers, Phoenix Garden Member, said he had been gardening for 10 years and elicited several laughs when he said he wanted to share that black eyed peas don’t always come in Goya cans. Ed Fowler, Director of Neighbors Together, a soup kitchen located down the street, ¬†spoke about his organization’s mission to end hunger and how participating in a community garden is part of the solution. If you are interested in volunteering at Neighbors Together, they need help Monday – Friday. The serve lunch 12pm-3pm and dinner 5pm-7pm. Call ahead first to find out if they need volunteers on that day. 718-498-7256.


I later met two of the members of the garden – Marcia Denson and Anne Serrano – who had been actively involved in the planning meetings for the garden renovation. The meetings were a collaborative process with a 15 person committee let by the Green Guerillas. When I asked Ms. Denson and Ms. Serrano what they were looking forward to growing this year, they replied with a number of vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, collard greens, cabbage, okra, spinach, and basil. Last year, membership to the garden was full and there was even a waiting list of 10-15 people. Ms. Serrano pointed out that you can still join the community garden even if you don’t have a plot.


The space, the dirt, the people at the garden were brimming with enthusiasm for all of the potential this new renovation would bring. The community had watched as an abandoned plot of land had been transformed into a garden over the past few years. For more information on community gardens, please visit Green Guerillas and Green Thumb. Feel free to share what is going on at your community garden, what you are growing, and how it is going.


Phoenix Garden

March 25, 2009

While the country is abuzz with the exciting news of the new vegetable garden being planted on the White House South Lawn, local New Yorkers are doing their part to recognize a variety of landscapes as gardening plots. There are 600 community gardens in the city and one in particular, the Phoenix Garden, is being recognized tomorrow by the Council on the Environment of New York City. If you can make it, swing by the groundbreaking ceremony taking place at the garden.

The Phoenix Garden truly means a great deal the community with 45 members who grow everything from zucchini to collard greens. In addition to the members being able to enjoy the garden’s bounty, they also share their harvest with Neighbors Together, a soup kitchen serving 500 people daily. The Phoenix Garden represents how growing food locally can create a more sustainable community and how members of the community can directly invest it their community’s success and future. For more information on the event tomorrow, please visit:

Phoenix Garden

2037 Fulton Street

Somers Street and Rockaway Avenue

Brooklyn, New York

Groundbreaking Ceremony:

Thursday, March 26th at 11:00am