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Brooklyn-Queens community garden support group gets grant to help trees

August 2, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, a nonprofit group that owns and supports a network of 35 community gardens across Brooklyn and Queens, has been selected as a recipient of an Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The $30,940 Tree Maintenance Grant will enable BQLT to hire professional arborists to carry out necessary tree pruning and removal within numerous BQLT gardens. In addition, BQLT will partner with Trees New York to offer a special Citizen Pruner course to BQLT garden volunteers, sponsor several fruit tree-pruning workshops and host a 2022 Arbor Day event.

The grant will also enable the group to establish a Community Tree Board made up of volunteers interested in educating the public about the benefits of community trees. All in all, it will have immediate effects on many of the 240 trees located in BQLT’s gardens.

Among BQLT’s many Brooklyn gardens are the David Foulke Memorial Garden in Boerum Hill; the Northside Community Garden in Williamsburg; The People’s Garden in Bushwick; the Heaven’s Gate Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant; Mama Dee’s Garden in Crown Heights and many more.

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“We are extremely grateful to receive this grant to provide much needed and much appreciated tree maintenance in several of our gardens,” said Domica Roberts, BQLT program manager. “The preservation of open green space not only includes the protection of the land itself, but also the biodiversity sustained through the different species of trees that will be cared for using these funds.”

The United Herkimer Garden Club in Bed-Stuy. Photo courtesy of BQLT

“We are grateful to the Department of Environmental Conservation for their investment in environmental justice in the neighborhoods that are home to Brooklyn Queens Land Trust’s community gardens,” said Steven Thomson, president of the BQLT Board of Directors. “The trees that this programming sustains will improve air quality and provide shade for New Yorkers facing a changing climate.”

“Trees are vital to our community life, public health, and our environment,” said New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “New York State is proud to celebrate Arbor Day by awarding grants to 26 outstanding projects in communities across the state to inventory, plant and maintain public trees.”

Young gardeners at the Northside Community Garden in Williamsburg. Photo courtesy of BQLT

BQLT was incorporated as a non-profit in 2004, in the aftermath of a chain of events in which former Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to auction off many of the city’s community gardens; singer Bette Midler bought many of the gardens with the object of saving them; and Giuliani’s successor, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, signed a deal with the Trust for Public Land to save more of the community gardens.

The organization’s mission is three-fold: 1) to establish a community of gardeners in Brooklyn and Queens; 2) to preserve, support, manage, and enhance community gardens for the benefit of the general public; and 3) to act as a steward of the open space properties it owns.

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