By Devon Johnson, Contributing Writer
This morning as I looked out my window and saw several fallen trees I was inspired to write about gardening in NYCHA. I woke up, turned on my computer, looked at the Google search query and Google’d the words “NYCHA Green.” To my surprise the first link I clicked on was GreenNYCHA and it had a picture featuring “EBONY’s Garden”. This NYCHA Garden is over 2000 sq feet and located in Marcy projects and has been there for over 15 Years. Laura Johnson, the founder, is known to be the pioneer for starting this wonderful garden for the residents in the development.
She has consistently won first prize several times in the past couple of years in the NYCHA Garden competition under the category of theme garden. Recently Hurricane Sandy’s has done its best to destroy this beautiful garden and many others like it. Fortunately the 3 tall trees in the garden still stand, but unfortunately the small plants, designs and many smaller trees in the garden are in terrible disrepair.
Just to let you know the NYCHA Garden and Greening Program is a HUGE deal for gardening residents, this idea started in 1962, now in 2012 this idea has grown into a Citywide Resident Garden Competition. What started with a simple Flower Garden competition has now it has expanded into a program that now includes over 600 gardens in about 200 of NYCHA’s 334 developments. With categories that include Vegetable and Theme Gardens as well as flowers. WOW!
Although the program provides technical assistance, free seeds and flowering bulbs, as well as other gardening resources to resident gardeners across the city’s developments Ms. Johnson has never asked or received a seed from the program providers. When asked, why doesn’t she utilize their resources, she smiled and replied “I really didn’t know they helped out with those items”.
Laura Johnson is a true green gardener and does so faithfully, living in Marcy houses for over 25 years and she is often asked for tips and advice from her neighbors in the community. In-turn I tip my hat to Ms. Johnson. She is looked up to by many gardeners in and out of the development.
I was surprised this morning, when I looked at the GreenNYCHA site, because this Garden is actually my Grandmother’s. I have seen the growth and diligence put into this vision and nearly 20 years later I am proud that it still stands even after Sandy!