The Greenest Blocks In Brooklyn are in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Boerum Hill

August 9, 2013 Heather Chin
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Brooklyn has a lot of green space in parks, gardens and sidewalk tree- and flower-beds, but the greenest blocks of them all are in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Boerum Hill.

That distinction comes courtesy of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) and their annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition, which pits community streetscapes against one another in a friendly battle of the green thumbs. Hundreds of blocks participate in the contest, submitting photos and background information on everything from the type of plants grown to how involved residents get in the maintenance. Judges include professional horticulturists from BBG and journalists, and criteria considered when making their decision include:

“color and total visual effect, citizen participation, variety and suitability of plants, soil condition and use of mulch, street tree and tree bed care, and all-around best horticultural practices.”

This year, the champion residential block is Sterling Street between Washington and Bedford Avenues.

 

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The Sterling Street winners were ecstatic at their win, having entered the contest every year for over a decade, each year transforming their street into a community space full of relaxing, beautiful and practical spaces such as a children’s garden, blooming window boxes and tree beds/containers, and housefront gardens where residents–and the block gardening committee–help seniors and one another garden.

“Every resident on Sterling Street is part of this story: mulching, watering, organizing and fundraising all year round,” said Claudia Loftis, chair of the block association gardening committee. “We built a special community around gardening here– when you saw someone caring for a yard, tree bed or planter, it was frequently a neighbor assisting someone next door or down the block, helping seniors, caring for the communal Children’s Garden or maintaining the yard of an abandoned house. Thanks to the hard work of all our residents, especially past gardening committee leaders Everleen Cook and Sandra Skoblar, we can proudly say we live on the greenest block in Brooklyn!”

Meanwhile, the champion commercial block was Atlantic Avenue between Bond and Nevins Streets.

This is the third time that this stretch of Atlantic Avenue has received the Greenest Block recognition, said Sue Wolfe, who is a resident, former businessowner and member of the Atlantic Avenue BID and Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation.

“We’re delighted each time [we win] because we put a lot of thought and effort and work into it. The whole block participates in giving us donations to buy plants and my partner-in-gardening, Sharon Taylor, waters half the block and I water the other half,” said Wolfe. “Just planting doesn’t do it; you have to keep the plants alive.”

The plants along Atlantic Avenue are also purchased locally, at the Brooklyn Terminal Market and at plant sales from the Hoyt Street Association and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Plants include “low-flowering plants and lots of greenery [and] a combination of flowers and types of ivy in the tree pits,” which grow perennially and are “not so tall that people want to steal them.”

Atlantic Avenue BID Executive Director Josef Szende considers the recognition “a testament to the hard work of the residents and businessowners of that block” and noted that “they’re very creative about turning what you might think are unpleasant areas into green, beautiful areas. For example, the tree stump that has become a home for potted plants.”

The Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest is managed by BBG’s GreenBridge program in cooperation with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.


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