STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Volunteers gathered on a crisp, sunny Saturday morning at the Skyline Community Garden in New Brighton, still in full bloom, to celebrate their gardening efforts over the last three years and the vegetables that are thriving and feeding the community.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 76, in conjuction with the non profit H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, have refurbished a former bocce court located on the corner of Clyde Place and Prospect Avenue, planting and nurturing a community garden.
“Over the years we have been working with various groups,” said Watson Kawecki, Troop 76 Scout Master, based in Christ Church on Franklin Ave, also in New Brighton. “It’s not strictly our garden; it’s a community garden.
“Troop 76 is a five-year-old troop trying to keep the flame of scouting alive. Some of that is service. Some is giving to the community. And some of that is building up the skills you need in society.”
The youngest of Troop 76, Stefan Offenberg, 11, seemed pleased with the reults. “I helped remove weeds from the garden and other stuff that didn’t belong in the space,” he said. “I was happy to help because you can never have enough help with projects like this one.”
The vegetables of the garden, including zucchini, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, bunnernut squash, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes, are free to neighborhood families, thanks to the efforts of the non-profit, H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths.
“Troop 76 and six dedicated volunteers have tended to this beautiful garden from March to October for many seasons, providing the neighborhood with fresh vegetables in what was once an abondoned bocce court,” said Jim Logan of the NYC Parks Dept. “The space is now a beautiful setting for the area’s residents to visit and picnic on the surrounding benches.”
Volunteer Charlotte Hewitt agrees, noting that Troop 76 works hand in hand with H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, a non profit headed by Heather Butts. “Our garden is open to the public and I’m proud to say we have eradicated the weeds,” said Hewitt.
“She brought the plants, planted them, and I plotted out four-foot beds. The scouts volunteered with their parents and did the watering and weeding. We have been going strong ever since.”
ABOUT H.E.A.L.T.H. FOR YOUTHS
H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, Inc is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting youth. The organization strives to combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency, improve the quality of education, health care and life-skills training offered to adolescence and young adults.
“Skyline Community Garden wouldn’t be where it is this year without the help of Troop 76 this year,” said Heather Butts, founder and H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths. “We started it three years ago with help from Partnerships for Parks, Parks Department and Greenthumb.”
H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths is also the steward for several different gardens on North Shore, including Hillstreet Garden and Snug Harbor Garden, according to Hewitt.