If you haven't had a chance to visit, let us show you around the garden. Just inside the gate, a stone footpath winds around our ornamental beds--plants that are not grown for food, but there to provide you with lush, attractive company! Here you'll see shrubs, flowers and ferns rubbing shoulders in dense, eclectic arrangements. We try to feature native flora as much as possible--plants native to the natural landscape of what is now New York City.
On the other side of the path is a lawn with two fruit trees where people can relax in front of a beautiful mural. The mural was painted by neighborhood kids and their parents based on a sketch by Rodrigo Gonzalez, one of the co-founders of Eldert Street Garden, and was made possible by a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. The mural-painting project took place at a barbecue party that featured performances from local musicians and an open mic where kids showed off their talents. This gathering is just one example of how the garden cultivates engagement with the arts on our block. There are many artists and musicians in the Eldert Street Garden community, and we strive to make the garden a welcoming space for creativity of all kinds!
Going further into the garden, you'll encounter our raised-bed vegetable plots. Garden keyholders can have their own vegetable plot to grow whatever they like. Keyholders are garden caretakers who pay a small annual fee and agree to take on some responsibility for the upkeep of the garden as a whole. You'll find a wide range of fruits and vegetables growing in these plots, everything from classics like tomatoes, collards and chard to more adventurous delicacies like chili peppers and purple heirloom beans.
In the back of the garden, behind a shelter that holds some garden supplies, you'll find our compost bins. These bins are an important source of healthy, nutritious soil for our vegetable plots. Gardeners and other neighborhood residents collect their food scraps and drop them off in the bins, where they are transformed into a rich compost with the help of some resident worms. Compost collection sites are few and far between in southeast Bushwick, so Eldert Street Garden plays an important role in reducing food waste in our community and contributing to a more sustainable urban ecology.
Composting is just one of the sustainable methods we employ in cultivating the garden. We've also created a rainwater catchment system that helps supply water to our ornamental beds.
Like berries? We do too. A large mulberry tree hangs over the back of the garden, casting cool shade on those hot summer days over our composting and barbecuing area (yes, we have a grill!), and plentiful mulberries. We've also got blackberry and red currant bushes.
Any tour of the garden would be incomplete without seeing some local wildlife. The garden attracts a surprising variety of insects, some of whom pollinate our plants so that they'll bear fruit. From colorful beetles to majestic swallowtail butterflies, you'll never believe you don't have to leave NYC to see these guys.
That concludes our tour! We hope you've enjoyed it, and we invite you to visit in person sometime for the real deal. Today's Eldert Street Garden represents years of hard work to convert a rubble-strewn lot into a lush green oasis for everyone in our community to enjoy.