CLEVELAND, Ohio – Project EverGreen formally dedicated two of its most recent Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids. projects when it cut the ribbon on the Hazlet Youth Athletic League’s William B. Paterson Field in New Jersey, and the Neighbors of Vega Baja community garden in East Harlem, New York City.
“With more than half of the population living in urban areas, it’s critical that neighborhood parks and community gardens are available for the health benefits and social well-being of kids and adults,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Additionally, green spaces in cities work to sequester carbon and create oxygen for those living in the community. Project EverGreen works collaboratively with individuals, businesses and like-minded groups to renovate and restore green spaces.”
The Hazlet project started in Oct. 2016 with a professional landscaping renovation to restore and improve the health and vigor of the weather-damaged grass field which serves as the home playing surface for nearly 1,500 children in HYAL fall football and spring flag football leagues within the Hazlet Township community.
With the financial assistance of the performance nutrition division of Hazlet-based LidoChem, Inc., and Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Natural Green Lawn Care, and community members, a work party reshaped, fertilized and seeded the field to create a safe greenspace where community children can play.
“We’re proud to partner with Project EverGreen on this initiative to restore our own hometown Hazlet Hawks youth natural grass athletic field for our kids,” said Don Pucillo, president of LidoChem, Inc. “We’re especially pleased to contribute earth-friendly and kid-safe products to produce a greener, healthier, cooler play area where our children can play outside and just be kids.”
The in-kind donations of materials and labor from professional landscape contractor and supplier volunteers’ to improve the playability and safety of 100,000 sq. ft. of playing surface, totals more than $25,000.
Code was joined at the dedication ceremony (held on May 18), by Pucillo, HYAL President Seb Burtone and John Woody, president, Natural Green Lawn Care.
HYAL Hazlet Hawks football players and cheerleaders, current and former Hazlet High players, including Bennet Jackson, Notre Dame alumnus and New York Giants player, were also on hand for the dedication.
Across the Hudson River, the dedication of the renovated Neighbors of Vega Baja community garden took place on Saturday, May 20. The project was supported by a Con Edison community service grant, NYC Parks GreenThumb and local landscape and nursery industry professionals.
The community garden – more than 40 years old – is named after the Puerto Rican hometown of numerous local residents, including the garden’s founder. Due to garden-adjacent construction, the garden had been mostly inactive for nearly a year before the first phase of the restoration last fall.
The first phase started with Brian Tauscher, owner of Artisan Gardens Landscape, donating gravel lining and topsoil to fill large planter boxes in place, applying a truckload of mulch to the open garden center area, and planting new apple trees, 30 hydrangeas and fruit-bearing bushes supplied by Plant Detectives, Inc.
Prior to dedication ceremony, 350 additional vegetables, herbs and ornamental flowering shrubs (donated by Plant Detectives, Inc.) were planted by ConEd employee volunteers.
Project EverGreen’s Code was joined in the dedication ceremony by Carlos Martinez, deputy director, NYC Parks GreenThumb, East Harlem District Leader Johnny Rivera and ConEdison’s Walter Shay.
“Community gardens, such as this, changes the trajectory of knowledge and way of thinking,” said Carlos Martinez, deputy director, GreenThumb (NYC Parks). “For the kids of NYC, growing vegetables is a new experience. Our job is far from done.”
In total more than $15,000 of in-kind materials and services were donated for this transformation project, restoring the sustainable fruit and vegetable garden and community park for The Neighbors of Vega Baja Association now, and in the future.