Brooklyn Boro

Crown Heights neighbors take home Greenest Block in Brooklyn award

August 8, 2019 Mary Frost
Residents of Lincoln Place between Nostrand and New York avenues won first place in the residential category in the Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Neighbors have turned a Crown Heights block into a veritable Garden of Eden. Their months of watering, composting and mulching were honored on Thursday with the title of Greenest Block in Brooklyn.

Residents of Lincoln Place between Nostrand and New York avenues entered the Brooklyn Botanic Garden-sponsored contest under the group name “P.L.A.N.T.s” — Preserving Lincoln’s Abundant Natural Treasures.

A Lincoln Place scene. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
A Lincoln Place scene. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

From the youngest children to the oldest retiree, neighbors have been participating in myriad ways just about every day since May — through days of 100-degree heat and flooding downpours.

Walking down the Lincoln Place block is a “rich sensory experience,” outgoing Brooklyn Botanic Garden President Scot Medbury told the crowd of supporters and press.

“The cool shade, the sound of bubbling water, the kokedama — plants suspended in the air — the signage on trees and the upcycled containers” make this block extraordinary, he said. Indeed, this block even feels a few degrees cooler than those surrounding it.

Plants on a Lincoln Place sidewalk are “growing to a different beat.” Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Plants on a Lincoln Place sidewalk are “growing to a different beat.” Eagle photo by Mary Frost

The annual competition, now in its 25th year, is a highlight of the summer season for Brooklyn’s greenest areas. With 160 blocks entering across 30 different neighborhoods, the competition is “friendly but fierce,” Medbury said.

“We had only one ‘frienemy’ this year,” Althea Joseph, one of the founders of P.L.A.N.T.s, told the crowd. “That was the weather.”

Althea Joseph, one of the founders of P.L.A.N.T.s, in front of her home. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Althea Joseph, one of the founders of P.L.A.N.T.s, in front of her home. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

The project is “not necessarily about greening, it’s more so fostering and leaving a legacy behind for the next generation, our gifting of talents,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “And that’s a way of bringing our neighborhood together.”

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“There’s something salubrious about being surrounded by something green,” State Sen. Zellnor Myrie said. “I’m so proud to see the unity on the block.”

Part of the decor on Lincoln Place. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

“Many of you know what this block was like in the ’80s,” Chaplain Ingrid Lewis-Martin, the deputy borough president, reminded onlookers.

Wins for Brooklyn Heights and Flatbush, too

The Montague Street Business Improvement District took first place in the commercial category.

Kate Chura, executive director of the Montague BID, and Estela Johannesen, owner of James Weir Floral, accepted on behalf of the BID.

“The person who makes it green is Estela,” Chura told the crowd. “With 50 trees in the BID and four containers on each tree, that’s 200 window boxes we water each day.”

Kate Chura, executive director of the Montague BID, and Estela Johannesen, owner of James Weir Floral, accepted the award for the greenest commercial block, on behalf of the BID. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Kate Chura, executive director of the Montague BID, and Estela Johannesen, owner of James Weir Floral, accepted the award for the greenest commercial block, on behalf of the BID. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Johannesen said that the greenery represents “the spirit of the community of Montague Street.” The BID plans to include more children and seniors next year, she said.

Chura recently told the Eagle that James Weir Floral “selects the material and cares for all of the plantings along Montague Street. They also add compost and mulch to all 50 trees.”

The winner of the National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award was the 300 East 25th St. Block Association in Flatbush.

“There are some amazing things going on in Brooklyn,” said National Grid spokesperson Renee McClure. For their award, National Grid looks at “a high level of public engagement, innovation and ecological sustainability,” she said.

Those interested in entering next year can find advice and register for workshops at bbg.org/greenestblock. More help can be found by emailing [email protected]

Criteria includes mulch levels, soil stewardship, suitability of the plantings, use of color and other benchmarks.

Dozens of prizes are awarded, but the competition is driven by neighborhood pride.

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