Tag Archives: Garden

Elmhurst community grows garden next to LIRR tracks for over 20 years, agency unaware

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Friday, July 25, 12:20 p.m.


Something is growing in the Long Island Railroad’s backyard.

But the MTA said it was unaware of hundreds of feet of community gardens snuggled against the railroad tracks in Elmhurst, mere feet from moving trains and in plain view of commuters looking out from train windows.

Elmhurst residents living down 47th Avenue between 76th and 82nd streets have been keeping the gardens, growing everything from flowers to vegetables for more than 20 years, according to one of the urban farmers, who declined to give his name.

These gardens are found behind the apartment buildings lining the avenue and are cared for by residents of the buildings.

The resident said he has been coming to the gardens to pick vegetables for the past 10 years as he picked a zucchini and hot peppers to bring home.

There is only one entrance to these gardens: through a hole cut through a fence that separates the buildings from the tracks.

Although surrounded by garbage, couches and tire rims, the vegetable and flower gardens are well kept. Residents have developed a path to allow visitors to move around the gardens.

One resident said he sees one or two people come in and out of the gardens every morning.

Community Board 4 said it was not aware of the gardens but that residents in the communities surrounding Elmhurst tend to take vacant plots of land and turn them into something useful, mostly gardens.

When asked about these particular gardens, which are on MTA/LIRR property, an LIRR spokesman said there are no records of any formal authorization given to residents at that location.

According to the spokesman, the MTA has a policy that allows individuals and entities to enter into “year-to-year agreements to maintain gardens on MTA agency property, subject to certain requirements.”

The LIRR instructed The Courier to “have [the gardeners] call our real estate person, John Coyne.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that an MTA spokesman declined to answer questions directly regarding safety.



East Elmhurst students to plant, learn from school garden

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

p30-NEW.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

One East Elmhurst middle school is helping students plant a brighter future.

I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong Middle School, located at 32-02 Junction Blvd., will celebrate the groundbreaking of its school garden on May 14.

Students, parents and school officials will begin building raised garden beds by filling them with soil at the garden at 32nd Avenue and 93rd Street. The goal of the project is to connect the diverse student body to nature and to the environmental and health benefits of gardening, schools officials said.

“Students need to understand about growing. Growing and gardening is a part of their education that’s missing,” eighth-grade teacher Pauline Smith said. “I want them to be more in touch with growing things because that’s how we survive in this world. There’s nothing we eat that didn’t start from a plant.”

The school garden’s nonprofit partners include Junior Energy, NYC Composting Project at the Queens Botanical Garden, Green Thumb and GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions Program.



A garden grows in Howard Beach

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lenny Bruno

For most of the year, Howard Beach resident Lenny Bruno is a teacher.

Two months during the summer, however, he is a gardener.

Bruno’s backyard has been a greenhouse in Queens for more than 25 years, with the educator growing tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and squash. Nothing grown is wasted, Bruno said, and he shares his vegetables and recipes with neighbors and friends.

“It’s just a wonderful, nice tradition,” said his sister and next door neighbor, Maria Barreca.

He also teaches with what he grows.

As a language instructor, Bruno said he incorporates vegetables and cooking into his Italian culture classes.

As the summer winds down and the harvest on most of his crop is passing its prime, Bruno said he still has plenty of fig trees that ripen from now until September.

“It’s a nice hobby [and a] tremendous amount of work,” he said. “It’s a miniature Italian villa.”


Best of the Boro: Services, Home & Garden nominations are open

| brennison@queenscourier.com


The Queens Courier is excited to announce the next category in the Best of the Boro Competition — Services, Home & Garden.

The competition places the power of choice with the people who patronize these businesses — you vote, they win.

Home is where the heart is, and the Best of the Boro’s third category focuses on businesses that improve and beautify Queens’ abodes.

The successful competition’s first two categories — Restaurants & Bars and Health & Beauty — garnered more than 150,000 total votes from Queens residents, who certainly recognize the best. Keep an eye out around Queens for the Best of the Boro stickers in stores and eateries window — indicating that the borough’s residents chose it as second to none.

Already more than 500 Queens businesses have been nominated in the first two categories. The winners in the Health & Beauty category — which featured more than 100,000 total votes — will be announced in the January 26 issue of The Queens Courier.

To make sure your favorites have a chance to win, be sure to nominate when the competition commences. The nomination process will begin January 13 and last through February 10.

Click here to nominate.

You can choose the best in any or all of the 40 categories.

The comprehensive category offers residents a chance to name the best ranging from best dry cleaner to landscaper from best contractor to florist and everything in between.

To stay up-to-the-minute on the competition like the Best of the Boro page on Facebook and follow @BestOfTheBoro on Twitter.

Kids can learn and grow in new garden

| jlane@queenscourier.com


A partnership between the New York Horticultural Society (NYHS) and Greening Western Queens has provided the students of P.S. 84 with a new, pristine “Learning Garden.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the school, located at 22-45 41st Street in Long Island City, on the morning of September 13. Built on a slope in front of the school, the area is designed to be an outdoor classroom that will provide students with a horticultural and environmental education.

Among the garden’s many features are a cistern to collect rainwater, which lowers runoff issues and reuses water; evergreen shrubs; a large perennial bed and two planting beds.

P.S. 84 was chosen by the NYHS based on the school’s viability, access, visibility, enthusiasm, teacher interest and parent and administrative support.

The garden is funded by a $50,000 grant from Greening Western Queens and a $40,000 donation from Sal Bacarella, a local landscaper from Garden Works.

Senator Michael Gianaris, who attended P.S. 84 as a child, secured funding for the original garden, which was renovated to create the modernized “Learning Garden.”

“This garden is an excellent tool for students to learn in a more hands-on capacity and enhances their understanding of the environment,” said Gianaris, who attended the unveiling. “It is a great example of community members, advocacy groups and government pulling together to make productive use of this space. We are always in need of more avenues to teach children about the environment, how it works and how we can benefit from it.”