On Wednesday, June 16th, Sustainable Flatbush held the second of two brainstorming sessions for a new community garden to be located on the property of Flatbush Reformed Church. About two dozen people gathered, snacks in tow, in the peaceful hall of the church and were greeted by the pastor, Anne and Chris who each gave some background to the project. Pastor Daniel Ramm, a Brooklyn native, happily recounted some of the history of what I found out is the oldest church in Brooklyn, and definitely put this new project into proper context. At one point, he said earnestly that, more than just supporting the garden from his position in the Church, he would like to be involved with the project because he believes it’s the right thing to do with the land.
Chris led us out of the church to see the two plots on which the garden will be cultivated: one small but sunny plot is bound by two brick walls and a fence which will remain open to the public, and the other plot is located in the front yard of the pick-up site of the Flatbush Farmshare CSA. It has high shade from a few stately oak trees and is quite a bit bigger. Immediately, people began brainstorming ideas for how to best use the space. We all went around and introduced ourselves, our respective homes, and what motivated us to come to this meeting. The group was a mix of young and old, native New Yorkers and transplants, and gardeners both experienced and novice. It was really exciting to see that people actually cared enough about this new community garden to take time to come, and I get the feeling that many of them (and hopefully others, too!) will become the backbone of the project.
Back inside the church, we spent the rest of the brainstorming session writing down our ideas on large pieces of paper and getting to know one another. The range and quality of suggestions and ideas was really stellar. Some listed vegetables, fruits and other plants they’d like to grow. Other suggestions included a variety of different events that the garden could be host to, from classes to potluck dinners to small concerts. One person even drew a little plan-view map of the garden with possible paths and beds. Overall, I think the participants’ ideas could be grouped into a few main hopes for the garden: that it will become a community space, one where neighbors can get to know each other and work together, that it will be a place to learn about and grow food, and that it will be a quiet, green nook in an otherwise bustling area. I’m looking forward to doing my part to ensure that the garden becomes all of those things.