Through the hard work of dedicated community members, an unsightly vacant lot on the corner of Hewes and South 4th streets will soon become a verdant community garden.
This past Saturday, a team of volunteers began cleaning up the lot, removing weeds and picking up approximately 100 pounds of garbage. These volunteers – many of which were area children and teenagers – will be out there every Saturday over the next few weeks.
“My whole life, I’ve walked down this block. You always see the garbage – it’s disgusting. If feels good to finally clean this up,” said Jonathan Pena, an area teenager.
After it is cleaned up, the garden will need soil, sod and seeds before it is operational, which community volunteers hope will happen by September. When it is finished, it will join the four existing community gardens in South Williamsburg.
The volunteers’ efforts will benefit from a $2,000 grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City, a non-profit that encourages civic action to improve the quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods.
The grant was secured by Councilmember Diana Reyna, who is spearheading the cleanup and construction of the garden along with the 366 Hewes Tenant Association, comprised of residents from the building across the street.
“South Williamsburg doesn’t get its fair share of green space – it’s nice that the people in the community have taken it upon themselves to change that,” said Reyna.
“It doesn’t look like much now, but one day this will be a point of pride for the people who live around here,” she said.
Susana Ramos of the 366 Hewes Tenant Association said she plans to reach out to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and other organizations to help get the garden up and running.
“They have training, workshops, they give you seeds, teach you how to grow certain vegetables. Basically, they help you get a green thumb,” she said.
Ramos said she plans on getting community members together to determine the layout of the park, which she said will include the garden itself as well as benches and tables for games like chess and dominoes.
“We’re excited. We have so many kids who hang out around here, and they were the first ones to come out to help. That’s who we’re doing this for. The kids will be able to see everything grow from the beginning – it will become a place where they can come together and have fun,” she said.
“It will be a nice site for the eyes when you’re walking down from the train station,” she added.