We are community volunteers who reclaimed a public park, created a garden there, and are working with our neighborhood schools to make it an outdoor learning environment.
Reclaiming a park
In 2001, a group of people living near what was then a “no-name” park at the corner of 18th Street and 7th Avenue in Brooklyn became concerned that its neglected state was beginning to attract abusive users.
The half-acre triangular park, created from an odd lot left over after construction of the Prospect Expressway in the late 1950s, was showing its age.
Determined to turn what was at risk of becoming an eyesore into a community oasis, we organized as HomeGrown and reached out to the NYC Parks Department with a request that better care be taken of the park — and an offer to help …
… within months, we were at work — under the supervision of the Parks Dept. and with guidance and support from Partnerships for Parks — cleaning up the park, roto-tilling fresh topsoil, laying out garden beds. As part of the New York City-wide memorial for 9/11, we planted the first of the many thousands of daffodils that herald spring in the park.
HomeGrown volunteers have since reclaimed the park, which earned its official name, Butterfly Garden, in 2004. In its first 10 years, HomeGrown planted more than 25,000 bulbs, perennial borders, and flowering shrubs and trees — including butterfly bushes, lilacs, dogwoods — provided by the Parks Dept., Partnerships, and HomeGrown members.
Today, HomeGrown continues to cultivate the park’s gardens as a waystation for butterflies and a pollinator-friendly habitat that our community’s children can explore, learn from and enjoy.
Creating a learning environment
In 2009, HomeGrown initiated a partnership with PS10, the Butterfly Garden’s around-the-corner neighbor, to develop ways in which the teachers and students might make use of the park as an outdoor learning space.
A magnet school for science, math and technology, PS10 is an inclusive, barrier-free school. Guided by PS10’s administrators and teachers, we have worked to make gardening, nature studies and creative activities at the park accessible to all of PS10’s students.
That same year, Butterfly Garden hosted the first PS10 Butterfly Days, an annual celebration marking the late-spring release into the gardens of the butterflies the students have raised in their classroom. In 2010, we opened the PS10 School Farm at the park, featuring ADA-compliant, child-scale raised planters.
In 2015, MS 88 and PS 53 joined our schools partnership. Those schools’ students plant crops at the expanded School Farm, help to care for the garden-habitat as well as plan and execute improvement projects.
HomeGrown also provides volunteer opportunities for students along with certificates documenting community service hours.
Supporting a community garden at Det. Mayrose park
Det. Joseph Mayrose park offers a special opportunity for community members to cultivate an individual allotment within a securely fenced community garden.
HomeGrown serves the Mayrose community garden as liaison with the Parks Dept. and administrator of the garden’s membership rules and allotment assignments (there is a waiting list).
Learn more about the Mayrose Community Garden >