Growing the Greenest Kids in Brooklyn

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    • A system for watering street trees, based on the efforts of their block’s youth, helped this block, Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue, become one of the Greenest Blocks in Brooklyn. Photo by GreenBridge staff.A system for watering street trees, based on the efforts of their block’s youth, helped this block, Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue, become one of the Greenest Blocks in Brooklyn. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • In 2013, the first National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award was bestowed on the 8th Street Block Association (8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West) for a children’s basil garden project using homemade sub-irrigated planters. Photo by GreenBridge staff.In 2013, the first National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award was bestowed on the 8th Street Block Association (8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West) for a children’s basil garden project using homemade sub-irrigated planters. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Gardening in street tree beds, like this one at 8th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, is a great way to get kids involved in greening your community. Photo by GreenBridge staff. Gardening in street tree beds, like this one at 8th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, is a great way to get kids involved in greening your community. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Kids on Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and  Stuyvesant Avenue helped paint banners to celebrate their block association’s efforts. Photo by GreenBridge staff.Kids on Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue helped paint banners to celebrate their block association’s efforts. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Sylvia, Ashley, and Raven serve as part of the watering crew for the gorgeous containers on their winning block—East 25th Street between Clarendon Road and Avenue D. Photo by GreenBridge staff.Sylvia, Ashley, and Raven serve as part of the watering crew for the gorgeous containers on their winning block—East 25th Street between Clarendon Road and Avenue D. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • The Lincoln Road R&B Block Association (Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers Avenues) created a curbside children’s garden with homemade labels. Photo by GreenBridge staff.The Lincoln Road R&B Block Association (Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers Avenues) created a curbside children’s garden with homemade labels. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Lively signage says a lot about the love and care the Macon Street Ralph/Howard Block Association (Macon Street between Ralph Avenue and Howard Street) gives its street tree beds. Photo by GreenBridge staff. Lively signage says a lot about the love and care the Macon Street Ralph/Howard Block Association (Macon Street between Ralph Avenue and Howard Street) gives its street tree beds. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Lively signage says a lot about the love and care the Macon Street Ralph/Howard Block Association (Macon Street between Ralph Avenue and Howard Street) gives its street tree beds. Photo by GreenBridge staff. Lively signage says a lot about the love and care the Macon Street Ralph/Howard Block Association (Macon Street between Ralph Avenue and Howard Street) gives its street tree beds. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Youthful gardeners on Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues take palpable pride in their award-winning work! Photo by GreenBridge staff.Youthful gardeners on Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues take palpable pride in their award-winning work! Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • The B&W Sterling Street Block Association (Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues) dedicates an entire front yard to its children’s garden. Photo by GreenBridge staff.The B&W Sterling Street Block Association (Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues) dedicates an entire front yard to its children’s garden. Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Youthful gardeners on Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues take palpable pride in their award-winning work! Photo by GreenBridge staff.Youthful gardeners on Sterling Street between Bedford and Washington Avenues take palpable pride in their award-winning work! Photo by GreenBridge staff.
    • Kids on a stretch of 8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West helped make signs that identify street tree species. Photo by GreenBridge staff.Kids on a stretch of 8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West helped make signs that identify street tree species. Photo by GreenBridge staff.

    As Brooklyn Botanic Garden celebrates 100 years of its groundbreaking Children’s Garden, what a great moment to pause and reflect on the impact that children have had on the greening of our borough. One wonderful example has taken place beyond the gates of BBG, right at our doorsteps: the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest. After 20 years of friendly competition, it’s safe to say that a generation of Brooklyn children have come of age cleaning and greening their blocks with their neighbors. Every summer, as the judges walk the blocks entered in the contest, I am inspired by the ways that gardening bridges the generation gap.

    Here are some tips—gleaned from some of Brooklyn’s greenest blocks—for getting kids greening on your block:

    • Ask kids what they’d like to do. Gather your young neighbors together and consider their ideas.
    • A garden of their own? Try to find even a small patch that kids can cultivate themselves.
    • Stay safe. From the start, establish ground rules for tool use. Keep kids away from potentially toxic plants. Discuss and practice good hygiene.
    • Keep it simple. Start small; come up with manageable activities that can be accomplished in no more than a couple of hours.
    • Let kids do the heavy lifting. Does everyone have something to do? You may be surprised at how much water or mulch a child can carry!
    • Keep up the momentum. Have regular activities throughout the season, including painting signs, decorating, mulching, watering, weeding, and deadheading.
    • Everyone learns and everyone teaches! Ask questions and work together to identify common weeds, native plants, or street tree species.
    • Celebrate your achievements, and always remember to have fun!

    Take note! To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Children’s Garden, this year’s Greenest Block contest will offer a special award for Best Children’s Gardening Project. But remember, you have to be in it to win it! Got questions? Ask GreenBridge, or check out one of our free workshops!

    For more inspiration on gardening with children, check out BBG’s handbook Gardening with Children.


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