BootLeg Betty

Earth Day Special – NYRP: Surveying How Their Gardens Grow

New York Times
Surveying How Their Gardens Grow
April 19, 2015

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Deborah Marton spends her workdays toiling over places where others spend their days of rest. Ms. Marton, 52, is the executive director of the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit group that Bette Midler started in 1995 to reclaim decaying green spaces in the city’s low-income neighborhoods. This means that Ms. Marton sometimes spends her weekends hearing from Ms. Midler. “Right now she’s in L.A., preparing for a tour,” Ms. Marton said. “But she does think about work on the weekends.” After the past winter, and with Earth Day approaching on April 22, the staff, which tends to two parks and 52 community gardens, has had a lot of planting and spiffing up to do. When not overseeing the spiffing, Ms. Marton decamps to her loft in the Flatiron district, which she shares on alternating weeks with her son, Henry, 16, and full time with Lex, a small rescue mutt.

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DOG ALARM I typically wake up around 8. I don’t usually set the alarm. We have a little dog, and when my son’s with me, I like to give him a little break, because he gets up early during the week. Both of us are up at 6 when he’s around, because the dog has to go out before he goes to school. So I’ll get up and walk the dog, then come home and make breakfast for the two of us. We have a nice, relaxed breakfast.

À LA FRANÇAISE We have a lot of bakeries in my neighborhood all of a sudden, so if they let me pick up the dog and come in, I’ll buy some croissants or something like that, and that’s what we’ll have. He’s really little, so if I hold him, they’ll let me do that. It’s a French bakery, so in deference to the looser restrictions in that regard in France, they go out of their way.

RIVER RUN I usually go for a run on Saturdays and Sundays. I run along the Hudson. I’ll run to the river and then down a ways and then head back. My turnaround is Battery Park City. It’s about five miles all together.

CULTIVATING THE GARDEN In the afternoon, I might check out what’s going on in one of our gardens or in Sherman Creek Park or Highbridge Park. Or if my son is with me, he goes to LaGuardia, he’s a visual arts major, so we go look at a lot of art. So the other Sunday we went to the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It was powerful.

CALLING OHIO Something my son and I try to do every weekend, at least one of the days, is FaceTime my daughter at Oberlin.

INSPIRED BY COMPETITION I’m always looking at what other groups are doing with their parks. I really like what Leslie Koch is doing on Governors Island — like, do whatever you want within our parameters. The idea of letting people decide what they want to do and to try to give them the tools to do it is very much consistent with what we try to do in our spaces. I’m always looking for ways that spaces can communicate to the people who use them that they matter.

DINING OUT If we’re out looking at art in Brooklyn, we’ll find a place in Prospect Heights and have dinner there. Or we’ll go to a restaurant in the neighborhood. The Flatiron neighborhood tends to have some super-high-end expensive places, and we have identified the less super-expensive places. There’s a Korean place called Barn Joo that we go to sometimes. There’s a brick oven pizza place called La Pizza Fresca. Burger & Lobster opened on 19th Street recently. It’s a London chain and they only have three things on the menu. You can get a burger, you can get a lobster or you can get a lobster roll. They all cost $20, and they all come with fries and a salad, and that’s all you can get. Once in a while we’ll go to the Coffee Shop. And then if we want to spring for something special we might go to Boqueria. My son’s a very adventurous eater.

HOMEWORK, HOUSEWORK After dinner I’ll either read or finish some housework, like laundry. Henry’s usually watching something on his laptop. We’ll go over his homework for the week. We might make his lunch for the next day. He’ll feed the dog and walk the dog. And if we cook we’ll clean up together. We don’t watch much TV.

PAGES Usually I’ll get into bed somewhere around 10 and read for an hour or so. I like science fiction, but I read widely. I just finished “Someone,” by Alice McDermott. I go to sleep around 11.

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