Two of Project EverGreen’s Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids. projects were recently dedicated with a ribbon cutting on the Neighbors of Vega Baja community garden in East Harlem, New York City, and on the Hazlet, New Jersey, Youth Athletic League’s William B. Paterson Field.
“With more than half of the population living in urban areas, it’s critical that neighborhood parks and community gardens are available for the health benefits and social well-being of kids and adults,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Additionally, green spaces in cities work to sequester carbon and create oxygen for those living in the community. Project EverGreen works collaboratively with individuals, businesses and like-minded groups to renovate and restore green spaces.”
Started with a professional landscaping renovation on October 2016, the Hazlet project worked to restore and improve the health and vigor of the weather-damaged grass field. This field serves as the home playing surface for nearly 1,500 children in HYAL spring and fall flag football leagues within the Hazlet Township community.
With the financial assistance of the Performance Nutrition division of Hazlet-based LidoChem, Inc. and Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Natural Green Lawn Care, as well as community members, they were able to fertilize, reshape and seed the field to create a safe green space where community children can play.
“We’re proud to partner with Project EverGreen on this initiative to restore our own hometown Hazlet Hawks youth natural grass athletic field for our kids,” said Don Pucillo, president of LidoChem, Inc. “We’re especially pleased to contribute earth-friendly and kid-safe products to produce a greener, healthier, cooler play area where our children can play outside and just be kids.”
Totaling more than $25,000, Project EverGreen says the in-kind donations of labor and materials from supplier volunteers and professional landscape contractors improved the playability and safety of 100,000 square feet of playing surface.
The dedication ceremony was held on May 18, and on May 20 across the Hudson River the dedication of the renovated Neighbors of Vega Baja community garden took place. The Neighbors of Vega Baja community garden project was supported by a Con Edison community service grant, local landscape and nursery industry professionals and NYC Parks GreenThumb.
More than 40 years old, the community garden is named after the Puerto Rican hometown of many local residents, the garden’s founder included. Because of the construction taking place across from the garden, the garden had mostly been inactive for almost a year before the first phase of restoration began last fall.
Phase one began with a donation of gravel lining and topsoil from Brian Tauscher, Artisan Gardens Landscape. This was used to fill large planter boxes and applying a truckload of mulch to the open garden center area. Thirty hydrangeas, fruit-bearing bushes and new apple trees were supplied by Plant Detectives, Inc.
Three hundred and fifty additional vegetables, ornamental flowering shrubs and herbs donated by Plant Detectives, Inc. were planted by ConEd employee volunteers prior to the dedication ceremony.
“Community gardens, such as this, change the trajectory of knowledge and way of thinking,” said Carlos Martinez, deputy director, GreenThumb (NYC Parks). “For the kids of NYC, growing vegetables is a new experience. Our job is far from done.”
More than $15,000 of in-kind materials and services were donated for this project. Project EverGreen says that this restored the sustainable fruit and vegetable garden and the community park for The Neighbors of Vega Baja Association.