The greening of Flatbush is well underway.
Just a couple of weeks back, an expanded Food Co-op opened on Cortelyou Road. In addition, the strip’s successful Greenmarket, held in front of Public School 139, reopened not long after, providing residents of Flatbush with farm-fresh foodstuffs.
And, there’s more. Area residents look forward to the late June kick-off of a neighborhood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in which individuals and families purchase shares of a local farm’s crop output before the season begins, and look forward to weekly deliveries of the farm’s bounty throughout the summer and fall.
They are also poised to dig their shovels in, at a new community garden being planned by former Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) Director Susan Siegel, working with Sustainable Flatbush, a relatively young organization that appears to be taking the neighborhood by storm.
Anne Pope, the founder of Sustainable Flatbush, said the explosion of environmental consciousness in the community reflects both the infusion of new residents and the aspirations of the area’s long-time residents.
“When I formed the organization,” recalled Pope, “I tossed the idea out there to see who would respond. I was delighted to see a more diverse group than I expected in terms of people’s age, and how long they’ve lived in the neighborhood. I was very excited to find this. You might expect the bulk of people participating in an organization like this to have just moved here, and be in their 20s or 30s, but it’s not like that at all.”
The excitement is palpable, Pope added, as residents actively pursue behavior that is environmentally-friendly.
“What I found by starting the organization is that it became a place that these people came to,” Pope noted. “It was an ‘if you build it, they will come’ sort of thing. What I think has been so much fun here is that a really nice mix of people has gotten involved. It’s been a really exciting way to meet my neighbors.”
Feeding the enthusiasm, Pope said, the organization would be hosting a Newkirk Avenue block party on June 21, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in conjunction with FDC, Newkirk Avenue merchants, Make Music New York, and the New York City Streets Renaissance, a coalition that Pope said, “Advocates for the allocation of streets more favorable to pedestrians and bicyclists, and less wholly devoted to cars.”
The party, which will be held outside the FDC office, between East 16th and East 17th Streets, will feature environmental information and activities from a host of organizations on such subjects as composting, electronics recycling and solar power, plus traditional urban street games – think Double Dutch, jacks, hopscotch and the like.
Sustainable Flatbush began in 2006 with events and seminars at Vox Pop, on Cortelyou Road. In 2007, the events took place at approximately monthly intervals and, by the end of the year, monthly meetings were initiated.
Future plans include setting up a “free swap,” an event at which people donate unneeded items and can take items they do need, as well as “potential small scale projects,” such as “Setting up rain barrels to catch rain.
“You need many permeable surfaces to capture water when it rains,” Pope explained, “and it’s also something people can be doing to get great water to water their yards. You have to do it in such a way that mosquitoes can’t congregate,” she added, “putting screening over it.”
Information on the organization can be found on its website, www. sustainabl
“Every neighborhood in New York City is a sustainable neighborhood waiting to happen,” stressed Pope. “All over, there are people who are really passionate about the environment, about living more sustainably and reducing their impact on the earth.”
Their motivations are varied, added Pope, and can range from “$5 a gallon gas” to “just having had their first grandchild.”