August 8, 2012
The winners of the 2012 Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest were announced today at a press conference on the champion residential block, Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers Avenues (map) in the neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Representatives from the winning commercial blocks, Cortelyou Road between Westminster Road and Argyle Road in Ditmas Park (map)and Newkirk Plaza between Newkirk and Foster Avenues in Flatbush (map), were on hand, as were winners in the contest’s other categories. Thousands of borough residents committed to beautifying their neighborhoods in the 18th year of lively competition.
The contest is managed by GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), in cooperation with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and with major support from the Brooklyn Community Foundation. The contest encourages members of block associations and merchants’ associations to vie for the coveted title of Greenest Block in Brooklyn by working together to cultivate window boxes, container plantings, front gardens, storefront greenery, street tree beds, and more.
BBG president Scot Medbury, Mr. Markowitz, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation president Marilyn Gelber all congratulated the winners in the residential and commercial categories. New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, State Senator Eric Adams, State Assemblyman Karim Camara and a representative from Congresswoman Yvette Clarke's office were also on hand to applaud the efforts of the block participants.
Blocks are judged on a variety of criteria, including color and total visual effect, citizen participation, variety and suitability of plants, soil condition and use of mulch, street tree and tree bed care, and all-around best horticultural practices. A panel of more than 20 judges, including journalists and professional horticulturists from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, visits each contestant block from mid-June throughout July.
The 2012 residential winner, Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers Avenues, distinguished itself with beautiful and meticulously maintained curbside gardens, a communal Children’s Garden, excellent horticultural maintenance, and its conscientious efforts to reach maximum participation from block residents. In 2009, Lincoln Road also won the contest, with between 55 and 60 of the 80 homes on the block participating in greening efforts. This year, approximately 75 houses joined in. The increase in participation is largely thanks to inventive gardening-based social gatherings sponsored by the block association’s Green Team, such as the annual “Wine & Dirt” event and kids’ plant label–painting parties. The Green Team also took the lead in encouraging other residents to garden in public space on the block that doesn’t explicitly “belong” to anyone—just for the sake of beautifying the landscape and increasing pride in the block.
”We are thrilled to be this year’s residential Greenest Block in Brooklyn,” said Tolonda Tolbert, president of the Lincoln Road R&B Block Association and a member of the Green Team. “Our 2009 win—and competing alongside so many other incredible Brooklyn blocks—inspired us to take our gardening and community involvement to a new level. We plan to keep inventing ways for residents to get involved, because we know that gardening on this block of Lincoln Road makes those of us who live here healthier, happier, and more proud than ever to be doing our part to make Brooklyn greener.”
This year, the judges paid special attention to the use of plants native to North America, particularly the Northeast. Because of ever-expanding urbanization and development and a surge of invasive plants from other parts of the world, the city is challenged to maintain its native plant communities. Judges assessed how each block utilized native plants on the streets of Brooklyn—in containers, front yards, and street tree beds—as a way to strengthen and restore New York’s natural ecosystem.
About the Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest
Since its inception in 1994, the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest has encouraged greening activities on more than 1,600 Brooklyn blocks. Community involvement has grown steadily, from 50 blocks in the first year to well over 200 blocks in recent years. It is estimated that more than 600,000 Brooklynites have participated in this borough-wide beautification and greening effort over the past 18 years.
The contest has helped establish and revive block associations and has inspired the creation of new organizations based on common challenges and interests. In many of the borough’s least-served neighborhoods, where participation in the contest continues to grow, it plays a critical role in community building not readily provided elsewhere.
First prize is a $300 check for each top residential and commercial block winner. All other finalists receive cash prizes ranging from $100 to $200. Best Window Box, Greenest Storefront, Best Street Tree Beds, and Best Community Garden Streetscape winners receive cash prizes or gardening tools. Contest participants attending the fall recognition ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall also receive a gift bag of fall bulbs and a certificate of recognition for their participation.
First place in the residential category:
Lincoln Road R&B Block Association for Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers Avenues, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
· Macon/MacDonough/Stuyvesant/Lewis Block Association for MacDonough Street between Stuyvesant and Lewis Avenues, Bedford-Stuyvesant
· 8th Street Block Association for 8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West, Park Slope
Third place:Bainbridge Street Homeowners and Tenants Block Association for Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Fourth place: B&W Sterling Street Block Association for Sterling Street between Washington and Bedford Avenues, Crown Heights
First-place tie in the commercial category:
· Cortelyou Road Merchants Association for Cortelyou Road between Westminster Road and Argyle Road, Ditmas Park
· Friends of Newkirk Plaza for Newkirk Plaza between Newkirk and Foster Avenues, Flatbush
Best Street Tree Beds
First place: Bainbridge Street Between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Second place: Sterling Place between Flatbush and 7th Avenues, Park Slope
Third place: Greene Avenue between Franklin and Bedford Avenues, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Best Community Garden Streetscape
First place: St. Marks Avenue Prospect Heights Community Garden, St. Marks Avenue between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, Prospect Heights
Second Place: Bridge Plaza Community Garden, Sterling Place between Flatbush and 7th Avenues, Bridge Plaza
Best Window Box
- Barbara and David Arky, 487 10th Street, Park Slope
- Diane Kosup, 716 Macon Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Second place: Janet Clarke, 115 Bainbridge Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Third place: Lorraine Wilson, 99 Sterling Street, Crown Heights
First place: Brooklyn Hearth Realty, 1207 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park
“Bravo to this year’s Greenest Block winners—from window boxes in Park Slope and Bed-Stuy to the tree beds on Bainbridge Street, from the streetscapes of St. Marks Avenue Prospect Heights Community Garden to the Brooklyn Hearth Realty storefront in Ditmas Park, and from the commercial areas along Cortelyou Road and Newkirk Plaza to Lincoln Road in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “All of Brooklyn wins when thousands of residents and businesses spend hours every day tending to their flowers, trees, and shrubs and organizing cleanup and beautification projects to spruce up their blocks. So I applaud Brooklyn Botanic Garden and The Brooklyn Community Foundation and congratulate every Brooklyn block that participates and continues to make the rest of New York City and America ‘green’ with envy.”
“For nearly 20 years, August in Brooklyn has been a special time to award our own version of Olympic gold to Brooklyn's best gardening teams! In 1994, when the contest was launched by Borough Hall, BBG, and Charlie Hamm, our former chairman and head of Independence Bank, Brooklyn had already begun to shake off the doldrums of disinvestment and get serious about polishing its image and beautifying its neighborhoods,” said Marilyn Gelber, president of The Brooklyn Community Foundation. “The popularity of this fierce but friendly competition has only grown since—from Park Slope to East Flatbush and well beyond—leaving a trail of beautiful blossoms block to block, which have become a signature of life in Brooklyn. Greater care for our sidewalks and soil inspires greater concern for our neighbors and stronger bonds across our communities. It is the heart of our mission at the Brooklyn Community Foundation and is truly at the heart of what makes Brooklyn so special. Congratulations to the winners! Thank you on behalf of your 2.5 million neighbors for making Brooklyn more beautiful with each turn of the trowel.”
“Each year we are newly dazzled by the creativity, hard work, and resourcefulness neighbors across Brooklyn show in beautifying their blocks. Even in the face of extreme summer temperatures, still-challenging economic times, and other hurdles, these Brooklyn gardeners just can’t be held back in their efforts to green their neighborhoods in sustainable ways,” said Scot Medbury, president of BBG. “Brooklyn Botanic Garden is committed to continuing to support neighbors, merchants, community gardeners, and all other Brooklynites as they use plants to beautify their blocks, draw communities together, and help conserve New York City’s biodiversity. We thank the Brooklyn Community Foundation and the Brooklyn Borough President’s office for providing the resources to support both BBG and the terrific work being done to green our Borough.”
For a full list of winners and more information about the contest, visit bbg.org/greenbridge.
BBG’s GreenBridge program promotes urban greening through initiatives and events year-round related to sustainability, environmental conservation, community development, and good horticultural practice. Working with block associations, community gardens, and other service groups, GreenBridge is building a vibrant network of people, places, and projects dedicated to making Brooklyn a greener place.
About Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an independent nonprofit institution committed to education, research, and the display of horticulture. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 12,000 kinds of plants and hosts more than 725,000 visitors annually. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Visitor entrances are at Flatbush Avenue, 900 Washington Avenue, and at Eastern Parkway. For directions, please visit bbg.org/visit/directions.
About the Brooklyn Community Foundation
Brooklyn Community Foundation is the first-and-only philanthropy solely dedicated to improving lives and strengthening communities in New York City’s largest borough. Established in 2009 to build local giving and service, the Community Foundation has distributed more than $12 million in grants to hundreds of Brooklyn-serving nonprofits through five donor-supported field of interest funds: Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education & Youth Achievement, and Green Communities. Due to legacy support from Independence Community Bank, 100% of all tax-deductible donations to the Brooklyn Community Foundation go directly back to the community. Learn more at: www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org; follow at Twitter.com/DoGoodBklyn; and like at Facebook.com/DoGoodBklyn.