7th Avenue Brooklyn Community Garden
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Located adjacent to Sullivan Park in the historic 7th Avenue District of Hendersonville, NC this community garden was started in 2011 with a partnership between the City of Hendersonville and a few dedicated community members to use city land for a community garden in the Green Meadows/Brooklyn Community. Brooklyn is a historic black neighborhood established in the late 19th century that grew into a thriving community being the center of local black life and culture. In the1960’s the community was renamed as Green Meadows as part of an urban renewal project. To preserve and honor the legacy of the original community, this garden is named the Brooklyn Community Garden. The garden became disused and now community members and volunteers are working to revitalize the resource.
Henderson County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Jane Grossman began the revitalization and expansion of the defunct garden. Together with guidance and volunteers from several groups such as NC State Extension, HC Master Gardeners and Pomologists, the Black History Research Group, Boys and Girls Club, Bee City and the community, Jane has led reclamation efforts. Soil testing was performed to assure there were no heavy metals. Invasive weeds were removed and native pollinator plants and trees that will be replacing the weeds. Gribley Permaculture was brought in to consult on creating a sustainable garden. Raised beds are being rebuilt.
Multiple three hour workdays were held. Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer, Jane Grossman donated 641 volunteer hours (641 x $31.80 federal vol. hour value = $20,383.80). She conducted research, grant writing, meetings with potential partners, community members, the city of Hendersonville and design work. The Black History Research Group has been a key partner and is the fiscal sponsor for the project. Grant funds are vital for making this project possible. To date, the City of Hendersonville and community members have come together and secured $50,000+ in funds dedicated for the garden. These grants include $25,000 from Healthy Babies Bright Futures, $25,000 from the Community Foundation of Henderson County, $5,000 from the City of Hendersonville Bee City USA program and $2775.00 from The Seed Money Challenge & N.C. Community Garden Partners.
Garden classes are planned for the late winter, early spring at A Place To Go, the local community center. In the future, metal raised beds will be built to provide gardening space to accommodate those with disabilities, older gardeners, youth and children. The idea is for the garden to serve multi-generational community members.
Gardener leader and community resident Ronnie Pepper, President of the Black History Research Group, hosted a breakfast for the Brooklyn Community Garden volunteers at A Place To Go. He outlined the next steps for the project and spoke about the relationships being formed and community building taking place.
Ronnie said, “Over the last decade, neighbors have found the secret to resolving differences. They found that gathering to work the land, reaping the fruits and sharing the bounty with those in need created joy. Sharing a meal after a day of work outside opened the doorway for dialogue and discovery of common ground. Volunteering at the garden is an investment that will provide rewards beyond what we can see.”