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864 Reverend James A. Polite Avenue [map]
Founded in 2008
Redevelopment of this 15,000 square foot Bronx community garden inspired the next generation of local young people and invigorated garden membership.The once neglected space was reborn as large scale vegetable garden and thriving outdoor classroom for P.S. 60/333. The garden had over 300 feet of fencing installed, in addition to new soil and vegetable gardens beds made from recycled plastic lumber, which occupy 2/3 of the site and provide food for over 40 families.
A shed, outdoor furniture including all-ability picnic tables, a notice board, composting area, gazebo and pathways complete this site. In honor of its name and as a nod to a community desire fulfilled, a wishing well is being constructed using stones excavated during the construction phase.
A portion of the garden is used by GrowNYC's Learn it Grow It Eat It program. LGE students helped construct the rainwater harvesting system in the garden, which collects rainwater from the garden shed and stores it in a 500-gallon tank.
Gardener profile: Willie Perez
Willie Perez remembers back in the early 90s when the lot on Rev. Polite Avenue in the Bronx was filled with nothing but weeds and garbage. He got a few neighbors and a teacher from the adjacent PS 60/333 to see the possibilities beyond its current state and together they approached the city about cleaning up the space.
Every Saturday was designated a work day and pretty soon that handful had turned into a large and committed group excited by the changes taking place. Willie fondly remembers, People never knew each other before we started cleaning the lot. It was a beautiful thing. Given Willies early leadership role, its no surprise that he is now President of the Wishing Well Garden membership and continues to serve as its visionary.
When the city allocated funds for a major site renewal, GrowNYC sat down with the gardeners to discuss their needs, We got together as a committee and I was the only one who brought a design and everybody liked the design.
Willies dream is now a reality and he is delighted by the outcome, Our conversations used to be about sports and now the group talks about watering their plants. The main thing, most positive thing is that the youngest and oldest gardeners learned to respect each other. The garden created something like a peace zone.