MANHATTAN — Homemaking maven and media mogul Martha Stewart is helping raise funds for the cash-strapped Hudson River Park.
The home-goods guru and green thumb was the first to adopt a tree using a new online program launched by Friends of Hudson River Park to support and protect the park's five miles of green space — as well as help repair it after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
The program's goal is to make adoption more accessible by letting donors choose a tree from an online map, give it virtual tree tags, write dedications and attach photos — creating a sort of social network of park contributors.
Stewart, a Friends of Hudson River Park board member, adopted a tree online for her grandchildren.
“We love visiting parks together, so the idea of giving them a piece of the park they can call their own seemed like the perfect Christmas gift this year,” said Stewart in a statement.
“It’s also a great lesson in the responsibility we all share in improving our environment for future generations.”
Adopting one of the park's 1,500 trees is not cheap, as donors will have to shell out $2,500 for a "Sapling Level" virtual tree tag that lasts two years and comes with an invitation to an annual adopt-a-tree community event.
At the $5,000 "Shaded Canopy Level," donors get the tag for five years, as well as a crystal Hudson River Tree paperweight.
For a $10,000 "Root Network Level" donation, supporters get all of that, plus a walk-through of the park to hand pick a tree, an annual lunch with the park's director of horticulture, and a crystal Hudson River Park tree-themed clock.
“The Adopt-a-Tree program is one more way for supporters to enjoy and experience Hudson River Park any time of day from anywhere in the world,” said Madelyn Wils, who heads up the Hudson River Park Trust, in a statement.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, this is yet another way park lovers can support our recovery.”
The hurricane caused an estimated $10 million in damage to the already cash-strapped park, which faces a projected $80 million deficit over the next 10 years.
The virtual tree adoption program is one of several new money-raising ventures put together by the Friends and the park's Trust, including substantial redevelopment of some of the park's piers and a proposed tax on properties near the park, estimated to generate $10 million annually.