From vacant lot to neighborhood nexus

Do you have a vacant lot in your neighborhood? Have you said to yourself, “What a shame….there must be some way to put this space to use”? Maybe you’ve coincidentally also longed for a clear patch of earth to plant a few flowers or stretch out with a book on a sunny day? In a city as overcrowded as New York, vacant lots are not only unsightly and potentially hazardous, but downright wasteful. Thankfully, a few ambitious ladies over in Brooklyn are writing the book (so to speak) on turning the city’s vacant lots into community assets rather than eyesores.

The Halsey Street Community Garden, which opens later this month, is a perfect justification for that old adage, “Never say never!” Situated at 462 Halsey Street between Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Lewis Avenue, this little plot’s transformation is a Cinderella story for neglected property. . . . Well, maybe that’s not quite accurate, considering that the metamorphosis happened not by magic, but as a result of the time, effort, and ingenuity donated by some caring citizens.

Paula Segal initiated the project (and others) when she posted a series of notes at 25 city-owned vacant lot sites around Brooklyn with invitations for the reader to contact her if they wanted to be a part of the lot’s improvement. She had cleverly appropriated information from a NYC Department of City Planning tool called MapPLUTO to identify these sites, and devised web and social media tactics to help her recruit neighborhood members. You can more information at 596 Acres.

In Bedford Stuyvesant, Jackson and Rapp joined with Green Thumb, an organization that facilitates partnerships between government and community garden groups, and moved forward with fundraising. They raised $1,600 with assistance from IOBY and scored a $1,000 Love Your Block grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City. From there the site’s more than 2 dozen vegetable plots, communal planting beds, and composting center grew with help from dedicated neighborhood residents.

The Halsey Street Community Garden will offer reserved beds for paying members, as well as free shared spaces from which individuals can harvest produce without charge. Part of the garden’s purpose is to provide healthy fresh food to the area’s significant low-income population, who may not be able to afford important fruits and vegetables from the grocery store.

Visit The Halsey Street Community Garden on Earth Day, April 22, 2012, for official grand opening gala from 12-4 p.m.

You can find a photo gallery covering the project’s development at their Flickr page:

Much of the information for this blog post was found in this Epoch Times article: Changing Brooklyn One Acre at a Time

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About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
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