QUEENS — Plants, flowers and a butterfly garden will soon bring a taste of nature back to a neglected space near a public school in Rego Park, a community group said.
The 3,000 square foot space, behind P.S. 175 on 64th Road, had been closed for at least four years, said Yvonne Shortt of the Rego Park Green Alliance, a non-profit that advocated for the space to be turned into a community garden.
Shortt said the area served as a garden about two decades ago, but in recent years it became unsightly and local residents had no access to it. “There were trees down and ripped up concrete,” said Shortt.
Last year, about 150 kids from P.S. 175 signed a petition, in which they asked for the space to become a garden. They also committed to take care of it in the future.
Shortt presented the petition to the Parks Department, which co-owns the space with the school.
With nearly $40,000 in funding, new concrete paths were built and new benches installed during the four-month project.
Kids from the school, with the help of the nonprofit, started painting a mural in the space that will feature flowers, snails, butterflies and ants, said Shortt.
This fall and in the spring students will plant shrubs and bulbs in the space, which will be open to the public.
And the garden be integrated with the school’s science curriculum with a butterfly garden, filled with flowers that attract butterflies.
"Kids will be taking pictures of the butterflies and they will later create educational brochures about the garden," Shortt said.
Children said they are excited about the new project.
“We are finally going to have a new garden,” said third-grader Michael Soto, 8, who lives three blocks away from the school. “It was dirty before and a tree fell there after Hurricane Sandy.”
Another third-grader, Sahil Arif, also from Rego Park, said he wanted to learn some gardening skills. “We are going to plant new seeds, trees and shrubs. I want to learn how do you do all that stuff," he said.