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Bed-Stuy Garden to Receive a $4,000 Facelift

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Bed-Stuy garden is seeing green after winning a $4,000 grant from a national gardening organization.

The 462 Halsey Community Garden, located on Halsey Street between Lewis Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, received the grant through a program set up by the American Community Gardening Association and cleaning product company Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day.

The grant was designed to reward gardeners who are "generous in spirit, hard-working and inspired to build community in their neighborhoods," according to the ACGA

Garden caretakers announced the award via social media on Tuesday.

"No more broken-down wheelbarrows at last," a post on the garden's Facebook page read. "WOO-HOO!"

In addition to replacing a busted wheelbarrow held together with branches and duct tape, the money will go to rebuilding flower beds and adding a new concrete foundation to the garden's shed, said Shatia Jackson, the garden's co-founder.

Jackson, 28, who was born and raised on Halsey, helped start the garden with Kristen Bonardi Rapp in 2011 after developing an interest in community organizing. Both became interested after seeing a poster for 596acres.org, a group that helps community members turn vacant lots into green space.

"We can actually reclaim our land?'" Jackson remembered asking herself. "I just took a shot."

Now almost two years later the garden has received more than $10,000 in similar grants, and has plots for members to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, blueberries and other kinds of fruits and vegetables. They also burn wood to create charcoal that they can then sell.

And this year, the gardeners plan to hold cooking demonstrations and canning workshops to help members of the community eat healthy on the cheap.

The goal, Jackson said, is to help educate a community considered by many to be a "food desert," an area that has little access to grocery stores with cheap, fresh food.

"Giving things away is a band-aid," Jackson said. "If we can attach workshops and different things to it, we have a better chance of making a change."