Community Garden for Bed-Stuy (NYC)

Brooklyn, NY, 11/24/1999: In the summer of 1993 when the tenants of 96 Pulaski Street moved into their apartments in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the adjacent lot contained no more than a few patches of grass, a couple of plants, and a wrought iron fence. Today, the site is home to trees, plants, shrubs and a new sense of community.

The community garden, developed by the Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) with the local block association and area residents, was dedicated on June 24 amid a crowd of more than 50 residents, project partners and neighborhood supporters.

“We have had a vision of a garden for this site since we bought the building and adjacent lot in 1993. It is wonderful to see the transformation of this space into a welcoming garden and community area for residents to enjoy, meet and hold programs,” said Deb Howard, PACC Housing Services Director.

While renovating 96 Pulaski Street for housing, PACC cleared the lot, planted trees and shrubs and fenced the property, but that was just the beginning. A 1995 grant from the Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association funded a sculpture wall of stone plaques, which helped to define the area. In 1997, the group applied to be a participant in the Housing and Open Space Initiative (HOSI).

HOSI is a joint venture of the Enterprise Foundation, who helped fund the adjacent housing, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC). The program was established in 1990 to addresses the need for usable open space in the City, extends the positive impact of redevelopment in the community, and is a useful organizing tool for tenants of newly-renovated buildings.

PACC was accepted to the program and received approximately $12,000 to fund the development of the site. The group then launched a two-year participatory design and development process. Once the design was complete, development took place this spring.

“Through our Plant-a-Lot project, Council on the Environment worked alongside PACC volunteers and local residents to create a low-maintenance public open space,” said Gerard Lordahl, Director of the Plant-a-Lot project. “We helped install recycled plastic benches and picnic tables and seed the area for a lawn and recently put in an irrigation system to meet the site’s watering needs.”

“This project is an excellent example of how the development of usable open space extends the positive impact of redevelopment in communities such as Bedford-Stuyvesant and offers an excellent model for community organizing,” said Alban Calderon, TPL Program Manager.

The Pratt Area Community Council aims to achieve stable and economically revitalized neighborhoods with self sufficient residents through tenant and community organizing, tenant and homeowner services, and housing and economic development.

Established in 1978, the New York City Program is the Trust for Public Land’s oldest and largest urban initiative. Over the past 20 years the program has helped gain permanent protection for over 300 acres of scarce city land, and has provided organizational, outreach, real estate and construction assistance to hundreds of community groups.

Council on the Environment of New York City’s Open Space Greening Program continues to green the city and help build and support community open spaces that are integral to the well-being of so many neighborhoods.