Oct. 11 2021 09:01 AM

The work improved accessibility, availability of fresh food and social connectivity.

Cleveland-based Project EverGreen and its donor and volunteer partners delivered an inspirational gift to Bronx residents with a renovation of the Wishing Well Community Garden in the Bronx.

The two-day renovation project took place in August and revitalized the 15,000-sq.-ft. garden that serves as a vibrant community gathering space, vegetable garden, outdoor classroom and oasis from the heat of the city. The donation was valued at $50,000.

“Project EverGreen and its partners were pleased to provide the Wishing Well gardeners and visitors with easy entry and access from the front to the back of the garden,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Pavers were provided to the garden in 2019 but remained unused because of lack of resources to install them. Professional volunteers stepped up to share their knowledge and skills and complete the walkway.”

Project EverGreen volunteers worked in partnership with NYC Parks Green Thumb to renovate, improve and expand access to the garden. Accessibility is particularly important at Wishing Well as several gardeners are wheelchair users. Neighborhood residents plant a variety of fruits and vegetables in the garden to feed their families and share with families in their community.

Both gardeners and neighbors were amazed at the single-day transformation. One 98-year-old neighbor living in the apartment building next to the garden says the Wishing Well community garden brings her joy. “It’s my green oasis and reminds me of home (in Puerto Rico),” she says.

Volunteers including Brian Tauscher from Artisan Gardens in Ridgewood, New Jersey and Mike Darling of Mike Darling Construction in Albany, N.Y. provided crews to excavate the existing entrance, install base material and then seal the pavers in place. Existing diamond grid was repurposed adjacent to the pathway to create level areas for picnic tables, grills and chairs.

Donated plants were installed at the entrance and along the walkway to enhance the garden and attract neighborhood residents to the community garden which serves as a community hub and respite from the heat of the city.

The garden’s trees were pruned, and new perennials and shrubs were added to the landscape.

This is the seventh GreenCare for Communities project in New York City and New Jersey since 2014. Previous projects have included Liberty Island (2014), Neighbors of Vega Baja (2017), Steven B. Paterson Filed, Hazlet, N.J. (2017), Clinton Community Garden (2019), Jackie Robinson Community Garden (2020) and Carolina Community Garden (2020).

“Community gardens are labors of love. Having highly skilled volunteers build paths and patios makes a huge difference in helping these valuable public spaces become accessible to all New Yorkers,” says Carlos Martinez, deputy director of GreenThumb. “We are happy Project EverGreen supported the vision of the gardeners at Clinton Community Garden who have worked hard for years to transform this site into a place for the entire community.”

Artisan Gardens’ Tauscher says he was thrilled to once again participate with Project EverGreen to improve public gardens and green spaces.

“Because it’s the right thing to do. We have the skill and resources, and we owe it to the city’s residents to provide healthy, cooler areas that provide a respite from the city’s traffic and heat,” says Tauscher.

Donors and in-kind sponsors for the project included Lead Donor ConEdison, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation/Green Thumb Community Gardens Initiative, Artisan Garden Landscape Construction, Diamond Grid USA, Plant Detectives, Mike Darling Construction, Cast Lighting and Turfs Up Radio.

Project EverGreen, a national non-profit devoted to creating a greener, healthier, cooler Earth that has renovated 60 community parks and green spaces and helped thousands of military families totaling more than 200 million square feet of living green space since 2008.