A Garden Grows In The Bronx

Andrea Chalupa
Editor at Walletpop
Posted: October 13, 2009 02:48 PM
Bette Midler does the Bronx and a garden grows!

Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project is at it again. The non-profit, which works to revitalize parks and public spaces throughout New York City, built a community garden in one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods, in the Bronx.

“When we first came here [in 1995] it was nothing but rock and rubble,” says Midler. She convinced Target to put up a “nice chunk of change” to combine two public gardens–(one is the site of a tragic 2007 fire)–into a luscious community space with an outdoor kitchen, dining areas, and rows of community gardening plots for locals to grow their own fruits and vegetables to take home.

The garden, which looks like something out of Vanity Fair, will also host cooking demonstrations, gardener workshops, summer concerts and community movie nights.

Designer and television host Sean Conway, author of the simply fabulous Cultivating Life: 125 Projects for Backyard Living, created the gardens by consulting locals on their needs and wishes. Most of the plots of land will go to school children at neighboring P.S. 73 to learn about gardening.

Barrett Robinson, NYRP’s Vice President of Horticulture and Construction, helped lead the project and project manager Jared Vazales grew many of the plants on his roof before transporting them to their permanent home.

This is NYRP’s third garden in the last three years. The Target Community Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn opened in 2007 and the Target East Harlem Community Garden in October 2008, both designed by Conway. Target also established a fund to help maintain the gardens.

Midler is a famous eco-warrior who helped establish green jobs in New York with the help of $2 million in stimulus money. This funding provided 26 people with full-time jobs, according to NYRP executive director Drew Becher. The organization also celebrated the planting of the 250,000th tree in its quest to plant one million in New York in ten years. They are 50,000 trees ahead of schedule.

“I meant a million trees. It was just a pipe dream at first,” says Midler. “Maybe I had too much to drink at one of those galas…We have ten years to plant a million and it looks like we’re going to make it.”

As for the Divine Miss M‘s advice to young eco-warriors on the frustration that we’re not doing enough to combat global warming, she says, to maintain stamina, “You have to nuture yourself.” And what better place to do that, she smiles, then in a garden.

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