Nature, Food, Community - these are the central tenents of the Roger That! Garden Project.
(Photo from the Brooklyn Historical Society)
We're building a garden in Crown Heights and need your help! Our Project will turn a rocky, dry, weed jungle into an vibrant, natural space for all to enjoy.
Gardening saves money. All too often fresh fruits and vegetables are overpriced and of poor quality in low income neighborhoods. Or, cash poor families invest in the most affordable food options, regardless of nutritious value. Studies show, however, that every $1.00 inveseted in a garden plot yields approximately $6.00 of fresh food.
Gardening is delicious. Practical experience growing healthy food correlates with its consumption; the more time people spend growing food, the more likely it is that they will eat it.
Gardening is good for you. Cultivating plants not only improves your diet, but is great exercise. Whether digging, watering, pruning, or harvesting, outdoor recreation improves one's body, self esteem, and level of personal satisfaction.
Gardening is beautiful. Urban agriculture transforms abandoned areas into safe, natural, social spaces.
Gardening is natural. Planting species native to the North East will make a habitat for insects and birds native to the North East. NYC is in the middle of a major migratory corridor and thousands of animals pass over head (or under water) every day. They were here first, so we might as well offer them a snack.
1. Clear all remaining debris from the site- broken beds, rubble, trash, weeds, etc.
2. Re-organize all existing raised beds and structures to make better use of the limited space.
3. Build more beds for more edibles. Can't grow food in toxic dirt! Therefore we'll build raised beds for our fruits and vegetables with untreated lumber.
4. Suppress weeds and revitalize soil. Soil tests revealed that the ground is contaminated with dangerous, heavy metals. Additionally the ground is compacted, lacks organic matter, has zero-micro/macro nutrients, and extremely low water carrying capacity. We will order compost and mulch donations from the NYC Department of Sanitation and rent trucks to pick them up from their site in Staten Island.
Once the material is procured, we will "sheet mulch" the entire lot. Meaning, create thick layers of cardboard, covered in compost, then covered in mulch. This will help block all sun from helping weeds grow, while making a healthy environment for new plantings.
5. Compost Bins. compost. Compost! COMPOST!!!! With untreated lumber and hardware cloth, we'll construct a system that will feed our soil while reducing neighborhood food waste.
6. Tool Shed. To do all of this we'll have to purchase basic gardening tools. To keep our investments strong, we need to keep them dry.
7. Rainwater Water Collection. Saving every drop of water, one recycled pickle barrel at a time.
8. Trees- Trees offer shelter to animals and shade for people. They help absorb airborn pollutants, produce oxygen, and alleviate our urban heat island. SIX street strees and a small white pine have already been ordered for FREE through the NYC Department of Parks' MillionTreesNYC program. Thanks, Parks Department!
9. Ornamental wildlife plantings. Native plants are beautiful, tolerate our climate, and attract beas and butterflies. Some plants have already been ordered through GrowNYC's annual plant sale.
10. FOOD! Some plants have already been ordered through GrowNYC's annual plant sale.
(The Garden looking East after a clean-up day in mid-March)
What you see in the collage video above is our sunny 1,750 square foot lot on the corner of Park Place and Rogers Avenue. One upon a time, 1960's-1980's, this was a hardware store. The building was condemed sometime in the 1990's and was torn down by the City in the mid aughts.
Over past few years, the space has been tended to by our friend, Dr. Richard Green, founder and director of the Crown Heights Youth Collective. The Collective is a 35-year-old community organization adjacent to the lot and currently provides all of our water.
In comes Roger That! co-envisioner, Erik Rosenberg. Passing the corner daily, Erik looked through the chainlink fence, past the invasive weeds, and saw the spot's great potential. A graduate of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Brooklyn Urban Gardener (BUG) volunteer training program, Erik began caring for the space last season.
Without fail, every time we've gone in to weed, clear out garbage, and re-organize- neighbors stop, ask what's going on, and see how they can get involved. Plants really do unite people. Everyone who donates to our Project is welcome to lend a hand and play in the dirt with us.
(Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York)
- (30 days)