Fifty Bedford-Stuyvesant block associations are participating in Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition. This is the greatest number of entries for any community since the inception of the program.
The record-breaking number of entries is due in part to the blocks’ participation in “,” the brainchild of attendees at the Impact Zone Breakfast held in the spring. Many of the blocks participating in “Flower Bed-Stuy Day” used the event as a launching point for Greenest Block in Brooklyn.
Founded in 1995, Greenest Block in Brooklyn is a project of GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Borough President Marty Markowitz. The project is sponsored by Brooklyn Community Foundation
Over the past few years, Bedford-Stuyvesant block associations have been fierce competitors, most notably MacDonough Street (between Stuyvesant and Lewis) which took First-Place Residential Block in 2003 and 2007, Second-Place Residential Block in 2005, Third-Place Residential Block in 2006 and 2009, Third-Place Tree Beds in 2010 and an honorable mention in 2002.
In 2008, Bedford-Stuyvesant blocks took nine of the 38 top prizes in the competitions. As a Bed-Stuy resident, I would love to see us improve on those numbers. With that in mind, I spoke with Jen Stewart, beautification chair for the Bainbridge Homeowners and Tenants Association (2010 First-Place Winner Best Tree Beds and Second-Place tie for Residential Block) about what it takes to be successful in this competition.
Ms. Steward believes, first and foremost, that the homeowners and tenants on her block have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the entire block, not just their house.
Residents and tenants adopted the vacant building, tree bed or street planter closest their house. They assist elderly residents with planting and maintaining their gardens. They take turns weeding and maintaining the tree beds. The block plans ahead, holding a yearly plant sale which is used as a fund raiser.
They buy plants at a discount from GrowNYC. They also sell window boxes and soil at the plant sale, which makes it easier for tenants and elderly residents to participate. Lastly, the block reviews the check list provided by GreenBridge after the preliminary round of judging and uses it as a guideline for making improvements.
For tips on maintaining your garden and tree beds, you can review my previous articles, “” and “." Also, please take the time to review the judging criteria.
Over the past two weeks, Michael Bailey of the Bridge Street Development Corporation and I have visited all the participating blocks, and I have to say, I was impressed by the level of participation of the residents.
During our visits, I took over one hundred pictures. Some are posted here; the others can be found on Flickr. Please feel free to take a look at the pictures and visit the blocks as well.
Also, a map of all the participating blocks is posted on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website. I hope you will be inspired by what you see and encouraged to join the greening bandwagon. To the block associations that did not enter this year, I say go for it next year. My block entered for the first time in 2010 and received an honorable mention. The award inspired greater participation by block residents this year.
Bed-Stuy is known throughout the world for many things. Let’s add “The Greenest Community in Brooklyn” to the list.
Good luck Bed-Stuy!!!