Our garden deliveries continued into its second week as we worked towards finishing all the deliveries before the Youth Leadership Council graduation event. After last week’s visit to the 138th Street Community Garden, I felt motivated to work even harder as I knew my work was directly impacting volunteers across the five boroughs.
The first garden we visited was the Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden on West 122nd Street in Harlem. Immediately, it was clear that this space had a different aura than 138th Street. Judging by its surroundings, the garden plot used to be the site of a residential brownstone. The trees within the garden had long grown beyond the fencing border and the foliage provided a canopy over the whole garden. It was like stepping into a “secret garden,” complete with garden gnomes and plant filled bathtubs. There was a beehive, as well as two on site cats that helped keep mice at bay. The beehive in particular jumped out to me as I know how crucial they are to many different ecosystems, and it is unfortunate that these insects are endangered. Without bees, agriculture in many countries would see sharp declines in production and plants that depend on such pollination methods would also decline. It was great to see J.D. Wilson doing their part.
In contrast, the West Brighton community garden in Staten Island fit the mold of a stereotypical community garden much better. Neat rows of raised beds were filled with an assortment of vegetables. The sunflowers and corn grew taller than me. The bright orange tomatoes were neighbors to the trellised cucumbers. Bell peppers and cabbage stood next to carrots and various herbs. There were picnic tables under awning as well as two large compost mounds and rainwater collecting bins.
In total, visiting the 138th Street, J. D. Wilson and West Brighton community gardens have vastly improved my internship experience with NYC Parks and Recreation. I am able to witness the administrative and field work side of working with public-private organizations like GreenThumb, which will give me a better idea of careers related to environmental science.