Neighbors who are just beginning to garden together are welcome in the contest! Want to spark and sustain more interest in gardening? Here are some tips from Brooklyn’s Greenest Blocks:
Enter your block in the contest and hang your We’ve Entered! signs.
Get the word out. Share your contact info and dates for upcoming block meetings, events, and judging.
Hold a block association meeting.
Invite your neighbors to share ideas, and serve refreshments if you can! To get started, check out the tip sheet from the Citizens Committee for New York City “How to Start a Block Association.” Remember, gardening opens the door for citizen action; make room for other interests and causes.
Collect contact information at every meeting.
Get your neighbors’ addresses, emails, and phone numbers. Make note of special skills or interests in gardening, working with youth, or helping elders. Create an email list or Google group to make information sharing easier.
Create a gardening committee.
Form a core group of neighbors in the block association—even two people—dedicated to sharing information and leading activities specific to greening and gardening, such as assessing block street trees and submitting a Forestry Service Request from the Parks Department.
Schedule a clean-and-green day.
Hold a springtime block-wide event to encourage neighbors to sweep, clean, and swap or share plants. New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will support your efforts with tools and trash bags! Check out its Volunteer Clean-up Program tip sheet online for more information.
Knock on doors.
Take a neighbor with you to visit folks face to face. Encourage participation in block activities and meetings. Ask for suggestions… and do more listening than talking.
Make learning a part of your mission.
Neighbors make the best teachers! Hold a window-box planting demonstration. Share sustainable-gardening tip sheets provided by BBG. Invite your neighbors to a Greenest Block in Brooklyn workshop at BBG or request a walk-and-talk visit on your block with BBG staff next spring. In the meantime, let us know your gardening questions!
Don’t go it alone.
Feeling overwhelmed? Tell an interested neighbor that you’d really appreciate some support. You’ll never know who might pitch in—or lead—unless you ask.
Start small, remembering that urban gardeners work under the harshest of conditions. Consider various jumping-off points like composting, street tree bed care, a mural, hand-painted signage, or a youth club. Celebrate your achievements together, no matter how small.