project leader
Catherine E
50 Humboldt Street
Brooklyn (Bushwick)
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the project

     Adjacent to several public schools, a very low-income community, and a large NYCHA residential facility in Bushwick Brooklyn, the programs at the Grand Street Settlement’s Cornerstone Center respond to and reflect the needs of the neighborhood through the delivery of programs for youth, adults, and seniors.

      The Extended School Day programming at Cornerstone serves 100 5-12 year-olds. Currently, there is a 12 x 16 foot outdoor plot adjacent to the Cornerstone Center’s backyard playground where Grand Street plans to construct a garden. The 5-12 year-olds who participate in Cornerstone’s after school program will assist in all stages of the gardening program. Along with NYCHA residents, seniors and volunteers from the community, youth will help construct an elevated bed that will house the plants. Once the bed has been laid down, youth will monitor the growth of plants in weekly hands-on programming. They will take on responsibilities that include laying topsoil, planting seeds, checking the PH and toxicity levels of the soil, watering and harvesting plants.

            Jackie Sanchez and Mika Keegstra, respectively the Center’s Program director and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program coordinator, will be the primary leaders responsible for purchasing supplies, seeking local support and overseeing the implementation of the garden program. They each will make use of their seniority to coordinate the assistance of other staff at the center.

the steps

     Cornerstone hopes to build a raised bed for our garden before April of 2012. We will first plant vegetables and herbs--lettuce, radishes, green onions, parsley, beets, carrots and snap peas.

    Initially, Cornerstone will need to raise funds to buy the supplies necessary to build the garden and to cultivate our spring crops. Volunteers from the community will be recruited to lay top soil and fertilizer, plant seeds and build the raised plant bed. Supplies needed will include screws, nails, a hammer, a power drill, a rake, a hand saw, top soil, work gloves, 2x8 rot-resistant boards, palettes, seeds, earth testing kits, stakes, trowels, watering cans, a hose, a hoe, a rake and work gloves.  All supplies will be obtained from The Home Depot and all seeds from an internet vendor.

    Once funds have been raised, Cornerstone will set a building date and begin enlisting volunteers from the community. Children will spread word by notifying their family members. Additionally, they will set up a recruiting table during after-school hours in a central location within the neighboring NYCHA facilities. Sitting at the table, children will encourage passers-by to support the garden by signing up as a volunteer. Jackie Sanchez, our center’s Program Director, will divide the tasks and co-ordinate volunteer duties on building day.

    Grand Street Settlement has applied for several small grants which we are waiting to hear back from. These grants will supplant IOBY’s support and secure the ongoing success and expansion of the garden program beyond the Spring 2012 season.

why we're doing it

      Our proposed garden program will benefit the Bushwick neighborhood surrounding the Cornerstone Center by providing green space in a public area, teaching youth principles of nutrition and promoting a sense of community across generations.

      GSS’ constituents are in great need of comprehensive health and nutrition education. The majority of the population served by the Cornerstone center resides in neighborhoods where bodegas offering highly processed foods are much more accessible than well-stocked supermarkets and other venders of fresh foods and produce. Obesity is a growing problem in Bushwick—making comprehensive education and skill-building in healthy and balanced meal-preparation critical to youth’s development. The comprehensive garden program will combat the communities’ problems with obesity through educational programming that teaches youth about nutrition and the relationship between healthy eating and their bodies.  The process of cultivating and harvesting fruits and vegetables will foster a positive relationship to plant life and show youth that the fruits and veggies they eat come from the earth, rather than the grocery store and food trucks. Enthusiastic youth will have the opportunity to be peer educators who will discuss with other children nutritional and environmental issues.

    Working in the outdoor garden and participating in accompanying educational programs will benefit the social and emotional development of Brooklyn youth.  Our youth participants will eat and share with their families the fruits and vegetables that they grow and will sell the remainder of the fruits and vegetables to residents of the NYCHA houses that surround the Cornerstone Center. The sale of the fruits and vegetables as well as the initial building of a raised bed for the plants will give students the opportunity to engage with NYCHA residents, seniors and individuals of all age ranges in their community.  The collective nature of all garden related programming will strengthen community values as well as help foster team spirit. 

    The currently vacant garden plot is bordered on one side by Cornerstone’s turf-laid playground and on the other side by a concrete walkway that leads from the street to the inside of brick NYCHA high rise apartments.  Beyond the concrete walkway is a parking lot. The presence of a garden beside the playground will beautify this otherwise stark urban space.


1)7 seed packets, $35, Burpee Gardening,, 2) From The Home Depot: $19.99 Stanley 20 in. hand saw, Model 20-047H, $120.32 for 64 4 ft. garden stakes at $1.88 a piece, Model ST3, $4.24 for 100 pieces of zinc-plated 8 ½ inch screws, Model 24762, $14.80 for 10 bags 40 lb timberline top soil at $1.48 a bag, Model 50055077, $64.85 for 5 Hydroponics Organic pH testing and adjusting kits, Model VPTK4, $38.5 for 5 Ames trowels, Model 1984600, $7.94 for 2 Holdall 52 oz. watering cans, Model WC05, $15.97 for one Apex medium-duty garden hose, Model 8535 50, $12 for 1 Ames garden hoe, Model 1825400, $49 Ryobi 12-volt cordless drill/driver kit, Model HP612K, $6.97 for 1 True Temper superflex steel shrub rake, Model 1789300, $53.76 for 4 2 x 8 ft PremiumDimensional lumber boards, Model 915556, $7.88 for 4 sets of Firm Grip large work gloves, Model 5023-60, $27.22 for 1 lb box of Shanko 1-1/4 in. steel-finish cone head nails, $5.98 for Workforce 16 oz bamboo claw hammer, Model N-B16CWF, $12.94 for 2 Scotts 1 cu. ft. Premium Potting Soil with Fertilizer, Model # 70751750 --50.00$; 6 Cowhide Kids Garden Gloves (7.97 a piece) --50.00$; staff pay for Jackie Sanchez and Mika Keegstra $597.36 is the total cost of our budget. The drill, hand saw, screws, nails, hammer, stakes, top soil, potting soil, lumber boards and work gloves are all supplies that will be necessary initially to build the raised bed using four 4 x 4 wooden palletes that we will obtain from a home-improvement warehouse. The seeds, trowels, hoe, rake, watering cans, hose and pH testing kits will be used to nourish the plants, monitor their growth and ensure the final harvest of our crops. project total = $598 ioby fee = $47.84


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