Help Support a Healing Herb Garden in Flatbush, BrooklynPosted: April 18, 2013
Sustainable Flatbush will convert its 340 square foot container garden, located at the historic Flatbush Reformed Church, into a culinary and medicinal herb garden.
We will cultivate up to 30 varieties of herbs in tiered raised beds, planters, and vertical wall gardens. Our garden will contain a mini hoop house for seed propagation, worm compost bin, worktable, and seating area. We will create two native pollinator garden beds at the garden entrance, to attract bees and other beneficial insects, and build a simple rainwater harvest and drip irrigation system.
Our herb garden will serve as an outdoor classroom, demonstrating basic urban agricultural techniques and offering workshops on the uses and benefits of herbs as both food and medicine. We will provide volunteer and internship opportunities, and pursue partnerships with members of our local community, neighborhood schools, and social service organizations.
The purpose of our ioby campaign is to raise money to build the garden infrastructure.
Construction will be completed over a 2-week period, beginning in early April. We have engaged a professional carpenter to direct our project and work with our interns and volunteers. Because zero waste is one of the main initiatives of Sustainable Flatbush, we will include as much repurposed material in our project as possible. BIG!NYC has already committed 750 linear feet of reclaimed lumber to our project.
Why we’re doing it
Green Spaces and Public Health
Although New York City boasts many parks and recreation facilities, and is home to more than 700 farms and gardens, many neighborhoods still lack adequate access to open green space. Our garden is located in the heart of Flatbush, a densely populated urban neighborhood — around 147,000 residents in a 2.3 square mile radius. Flatbush has one of the lowest ratios of open space per resident in the city, as well as a myriad of health problems: obesity, diabetes, lack of physical activity, and more.
Gardens create an opportunity for people to come together by growing fresh, healthy food to nourish their communities and neighborhoods. In addition, gardens provide many other social benefits beyond improving the quality of life for those working in the garden: they provide a catalyst for neighborhood development, stimulate social interaction (especially across generations), beautify neighborhoods, preserve green spaces, and provide opportunities for physical activity and environmental education — just to name a few.
Flatbush has no community gardens registered with GrowNYC, GreenThumb lists only one, and OasisNYC identifies only two on its map. This serves to illustrate the need for more publicly accessible urban green spaces in a neighborhood that is clearly ill-served.
We will use our garden as an outdoor classroom where community members, especially youth, can learn about sustainable agricultural techniques and water conservation practices in an urban setting, and about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of food that they have helped to grow for their own consumption.
We will provide internship opportunities for high school and college students, and open the garden to classroom visits and service learning opportunities throughout the year. We are already partnering with two local high schools in this effort — International High School @ Prospect Heights and Academy of Hospitality and Tourism High School @ Erasmus Hall.
We will partner with Sacred Vibes Apothecary, a local medicinal herb dispensary, to conduct workshops during the summer for our community on the use and benefits of herbs as both food and medicine.
Bread for the Journey, the Flatbush Reformed Church’s emergency food program, provides a hot lunch every Wednesday and Saturday as part of their mission to serve our community. Although the program serves the most needy in our neighborhood, it is open to all regardless of economic circumstances, and has become a way to build community across social barriers. Sustainable Flatbush will continue to provide fresh produce from our garden for the church kitchen’s meal preparation.