The Greenest Blocks in Brooklyn Are in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Boerum Hill!

High-resolution photos of the winning blocks are available for download here.

Release Date: 08/07/2013

Brooklyn, NY—August 7, 2013—The winners of the 2013 Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest were announced today at a press conference on the champion residential block, Sterling Street between Washington and Bedford Avenues (map) in the neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Representatives from the winning commercial block, Atlantic Avenue between Bond and Nevins Streets (map), were on hand, as were winners in the contest’s other categories. Thousands of borough residents committed to beautify their neighborhoods in this 19th year of the lively competition.

Managed by GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), in cooperation with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the contest encourages members of block and merchants’ associations to vie for the coveted title of Greenest Block in Brooklyn. Community members work together to cultivate window boxes, container plantings, front gardens, storefront greenery, street tree beds, and more. Major sponsorship support for the Greenest Block in Brooklyn is provided by National Grid; Brooklyn Community Foundation provides ongoing support to GreenBridge.

BBG president Scot Medbury, Deputy Borough President Sandra Chapman, New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara, New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene and representatives from National Grid and Brooklyn Community Foundation all congratulated the winners in the residential and commercial categories.

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 2013 residential winner, Sterling Street between Washington and Bedford Avenues, is a first-time winner after entering for over ten years. “In that time, Sterling Street has used the contest to completely change the landscape of the block from your average city street into a beautiful environment,” said Robin Simmen, director of GreenBridge. “Their persistence has had an extraordinary effect both on the streetscape and on the community of neighbors. Kids are actively engaged in planting a children’s garden, the block’s gardening committee assists elderly residents who can’t garden themselves, and residents provide incredible care not just for their own window boxes and stoops but also for tree beds and street containers,” she added. This block of Sterling Street is quite large, with 60 to 80 homes, and reached an almost incredible 100 percent participation rate on the block.

"Every resident on Sterling Street is part of this story: mulching, watering, organizing and fundraising all year round," said Claudia Loftis, chair of the block association gardening committee. "We built a special community around gardening here-- when you saw someone caring for a yard, tree bed or planter, it was frequently a neighbor assisting someone next door or down the block, helping seniors, caring for the communal Children's Garden or maintaining the yard of an abandoned house. Thanks to the hard work of all our residents, especially past gardening committee leaders Everleen Cook and Sandra Skoblar, we can proudly say we live on the greenest block in Brooklyn!"

This year marks the first presentation of the National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award, which recognizes a block demonstrating innovative horticultural techniques based on principles of sustainable gardening. Such practices include water conservation, composting, and improving soil health. The award also recognizes efforts to bring the public’s attention to sustainable gardening through signage, talking to people on the street, and other methods. The winner of the first National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award is the 8th Street Block Association (8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West in Park Slope). The block association created a street-side basil garden using sub-irrigated planters, in which plants receive water from a reservoir in the bottom of the container. Sub-irrigation can reduce the amount of water needed to keep plants healthy by over 50 percent and conserves time and labor. Passersby on the block see specially created signs and are even invited to sample the basil.

Ken Daly, president of National Grid–New York, said, “We have partnered with BBG for a number of years to support environmental education for children and sustainability in our local communities. We are pleased to present the first National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award to the 8th Street Block Association for their work in creating a beautiful garden. Together, we are building strong community pride and engaging children to learn more about the environment.”

“A tip of the trowel to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, GreenBridge, Brooklyn Community Foundation, and National Grid for helping to make Brooklyn even more beautiful, and bravo to each Brooklyn block that participates in the Greenest Block contest! Year after year, every Brooklynite wins when thousands of residents and shop owners spend hours each day working side by side with their neighbors to tend to their flowers, trees, and shrubs and organizing cleanup and beautification projects to spruce up their blocks,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “From our borough’s many blossoming window boxes, tree beds, stoops, streetscapes, community gardens, and storefronts, it’s clear that Brooklynites are clean, green, planting machines.”

“We are thrilled to continue our support of GreenBridge’s work in Brooklyn communities,” said Michael Burke, chief operating officer and interim president of Brooklyn Community Foundation. “The contest cultivates not only beautiful communities but strong connections among neighbors, both of which are at the heart of our mission at Brooklyn Community Foundation,” he noted.

Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, said “Greening a block doesn’t just create beauty. On a residential block it enhances community pride, brings neighbors closer together, helps puts oxygen into the atmosphere, and encourages pollinators and urban biodiversity. For Brooklyn’s business blocks, it also draws positive public attention and invites patronage. As many of the blocks entering the contest this year would likely testify, greening can be transformative, creating block associations where there were none, and inspiring a passion for gardening in people of all ages.” Medbury added “The 2013 contest was a reminder of the grit and determination of Brooklyn gardeners to keep their blocks healthy and beautiful -- and their communities connected—even in the face of extreme heat, still-challenging economic times and other real obstacles. We particularly commend those blocks that used native plants because every native that is planted strengthens local ecosystems and restores some of New York’s natural heritage.”

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 19 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.

2013 Winners

Greenest Residential Block in Brooklyn
1st Place:
Sterling Street between Washington and Bedford Avenues
Entered by B&W Sterling Street Block Association, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

2nd Place:
Sterling Place between Flatbush Avenue and 7th Avenue
Entered by Sterling Place Block Association, Park Slope

3rd Place:
8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West
Entered by 8th Street Block Association (8 Ave-PPW), Park Slope

Greenest Business Block in Brooklyn
1st Place:
Atlantic Avenue between Bond and Nevins Streets
Entered by the Mid-Atlantic Block Association, Boerum Hill

2nd Place:
Montague Street between Clinton and Henry Streets
Entered by the Montague Street BID, Brooklyn Heights

National Grid Leadership In Sustainable Practices Award
8th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West
Entered by 8th Street Block Association, Park Slope

Best Street Tree Beds
1st Place:
Macon Street between Ralph Avenue and Howard Street
Entered by the Macon Street Ralph/Howard Block Association, Bedford Stuyvesant

2nd Place:
Vanderveer Place between Flatbush Avenue and East 23rd Street
Entered by the Vanderveer Place Block Association, Flatbush

3rd Place:
East 49th Street between Lenox Road and Linden Boulevard
Entered by the East 49th & East 48th Street Block Association, East Flatbush

Greenest Storefront
My Brooklyn Baby
692 Fulton Street
Entered by The Brooklyn Love Building Merchant Association, Fort Greene

Best Window Box
1st Place:
Ms. Melita Shephard, 333 East 25th Street
Entered by 300 East 25th Street Block Association, East Flatbush

2nd Place:
Ms. Hazel Deane, 338 East 25th Street
Entered by 300 East 25th Street Block Association, East Flatbush

Best Community Garden Streetscape
1st Place:
Bridge Plaza Community Garden
Concord Street between Bridge and Duffield Streets, Bridge Plaza

2nd Place:
Fulton Ferry Historic Gardens
Old Fulton Street between Front Street and BQE, Brooklyn Heights

For a full list of winners and more information about the contest, visit bbg.org/greenbridge.

About 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 National Grid
National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society - to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the center of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.

In the northeast US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles. In Great Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country. National Grid delivers electricity to more than 3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation, providing power to over one million LIPA customers. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving more than 3 million customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

About the Brooklyn Community Foundation
Established in 2009 as the first and only charitable foundation for New York City’s largest borough, Brooklyn Community Foundation is dedicated to improving lives and strengthening communities through local giving, grantmaking, and community service. In partnership with generous donors, the Foundation provides critical support to hundreds of nonprofits working locally in the areas of education and youth achievement, arts and culture, community development, human services, and the environment. Learn more at www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.
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