Garden Profile- Palmas Del Caribe Community Garden

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Ten years ago gardeners Olga and Carmen Rodriguez moved back to Puerto Rico entrusting Palmas Del Caribe Community Garden to Alfonso Rodriguez and Julio Medina. The strawberry patch that Olga started in 1972 remains today a permanent fixture of the garden. The garden is located on Eagle Avenue in a fraction of the footprint of the former Hupfels Brewery. The brewery was in operation from the 1860’s to the early twentieth century and was one of many that stood in the area known as Grove Hill. The highest point of the hill was hollowed out as cool caverns where the beer was stored to age. As a result of prohibition in the 1920s the Hupfels family turned the brewery into a mushroom farm. After a number of years the lots began to take on the dimensions that we now see today.  Parts of the brewery were replaced by; housing, a school, a social club, a storage facility, a construction company and the Palmas Del Caribe Community Garden. The original smokestack, a number of old unwieldy retaining walls and a decrepit old warehouse, remains.  “This garden is like our second home”, said Alfonso Rodriguez recently, we come here every week and spend time talking about the old days and sharing news of the neighborhood. We grow vegetables and grapes, celebrate Father’s and Mother’s Days and occasionally we roast a pig for the community. Gardener Ballona , who would like to start a music program at the garden to teach neighborhood youth to play the guitar, often stops by and leads the other gardeners in a sing-along of  Salsa Romantico songs. Salsa Romantico is a soft form of salsa music that emerged between the mid 1980s and early 1990s in New York City and Puerto Rico. Community members stop by and listen as the sweet sounds bring them back to bygone days in the Bronx and Puerto Rico.

Barclays Volunteers Plant a New Shade Garden at Sherman Avenue Garden

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The fall is a great time to plant new shrubs and get them settled in the ground before the frost arrives. Recently Sherman Avenue Gardeners, with support from NY Cares hosted a workday with twenty-five Barclays Bank volunteers, where they weeded a large area in the shade of a willow and planted; pink and white astilbes, delicate cat tail-like cimicifugas, a heavily budded rhododendron and a variety of ferns and variegated euonymuses. They also built tables and benches, which will come in handy for the garden’s upcoming annual Halloween celebration. The plants were purchased from Larchmont Nursery with funds donated by Barclays. As luck would have it Larchmont threw in several flats of begonias and impatiens with the order so Sherman gardeners will be able to enjoy a little more color at the end of the growing season. Bronx Green Up generously assisted by transporting the plants from the nursery, donating 20 bags of mulch and setting up a compost system. Many community members came by to express their delight and look forward to spending many warm fall days in the garden.

American Express at Clayton Williams and Five Star Gardens

On a recent Thursday afternoon where rain threatened to spoil the day, 40 American Express volunteers toiled away at Clayton Williams and Five Star, Gardens. This feat was the result of a great deal of planning and coordination between NY Cares, The Manhattan Land Trust and American Express Staff. Clayton Williams gardeners had been struggling with a muddy garden path all season and longed for a solid gravel path. In addition to the installation of the gravel path volunteers worked alongside gardeners to rat-proof the periphery of the garden and weeded and mulched all flowerbeds. Work simultaneously occurred at Five Star Garden several blocks away where volunteers sand-grouted a brick patio, prepped an area to be planted with grass, planted evergreen shrubs and waterproofed the gazebo. When it began to rain halfway through the workday, volunteers donned rain ponchos and continued to work. In the end, the sun came out and saved the day and a great deal of work was completed at both gardens.