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Bed-Stuy Garden Rededicated After $50,000 Facelift

 The Kosciuszko Garden was awarded $50,000 in grants for upgrades.
The Kosciuszko Garden was awarded a $50,000 in grants to upgrade the space.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A 20-year old community garden in Bed-Stuy was rededicated on Wednesday after receiving a $50,000 facelift.

The Kosciuszko Garden, at 385 Kosciuszko St., was awarded a $50,000 in grants, including an environmental justice grant from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, to replace fencing, repaint the front gate and repair the irrigation system, among other things.

The garden was created in 1992 by the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, at a time when environmental conservation was not a priority in the neighborhood, said NEBHDCo CEO Jeffrey Dunston.

"We took the vacant lots that were dumping grounds and organized the community," Dunston said. "At that time, no one was talking about environmental stuff."

Before becoming a garden the space was a vacant lot, filled with Japanese knotweed and leftover debris from a demolished building, said Gerard Lordahl from GrowNYC, who helped design the garden 20 years ago.

Organizers built chess tables made of recycled plastic and a wooden gazebo that have held up for two decades, helped paint a mural on the western wall and laid out a brick walkway that circles a central bit of foliage near the entrance. 

But there were also bumps along the way. The garden's front gate, donated from Battery Park City in 1996, was stolen shortly after being erected, and at one point a pack of wild dogs made their home on the lot.

"We did have our problems," Lordahl said. "But it was great."

In addition to the infrastructure upgrades, a $23,000 donation from the Chelsea Garden Center went towards planting new shrubs and evergreen trees, installed in the spring.

Money not spent in the Kosciuszko Garden helped with upkeep at a second garden owned by NEBHDCo a few doors down at 397 Kosciuszko St., where organizers are growing vegetables for their new Golden Harvest Client Choice Food Pantry, at 376 Throop Ave.

"I'm really proud that we've been doing this for 20 years," Dunston said. "People have respected the park."