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Volunteers Overhaul East New York Garden to Oust Wood-Boring Beetles

 Anthony Columbel, 76, is a long-time gardener at the Ashford Street Abundance Garden in East New York.
Anthony Columbel, 76, is a long-time gardener at the Ashford Street Abundance Garden in East New York.
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Tatyana Bellamy - Walker

EAST NEW YORK — Volunteers pitched in to help overhaul a local community garden after wood-boring beetles chewed their way through the green space’s vegetable and sunflower bed frames.           

Members of Youth Works, an Indiana-based church nonprofit that sends teams around the nation, unscrewed and disposed of the dry-rotted wood garden bed frames at the Ashford Street Abundance Garden on the corner of 330 Ashford St. between Glenmore and Pitkin avenues Thursday in preparation for nearly 30 new gardening beds.

The garden, which supplies herbs and vegetables that are sold at the East New York farmer's market needed the overhaul after the insects took over the garden recently, organizers said.

“When you throw down the wood [the insects] pop out,” said Lyeta Herb, president of the garden, who noticed that the refurbished wood, which was installed in 2014, had become infested with beetles and slugs. “All of this deterioration is unhealthy for the plants.”

Last Summer, the Citizens Committee for New York City, which works with grassroots groups in low-income areas of NYC, awarded Herb a $2,700 grant for a shed, power tools and a water tank with a liquid harvesting system.

The replaced beds will be the latest improvement at the garden, where Herb said a new set of 10-foot fences were installed after she said vandals trampled the lot’s plants in August 2016.

“Before we had this fence they’d jump in here all the time and wreck things. Not anymore. Everything looks pretty safe right now,” said Anthony Columbel, 76, of East New York, who is a longtime volunteer at the garden.

“In the long run it will look brand new,” Columbel added.

Volunteers also repaired the shed's roof, hinges and replanted tomatoes and readied a 10-foot-by-10-foot pergola that Herb said will have grapevines climbing up to the roof.

Taylor Corbin, one of the Youth Works volunteers, said it was a pleasure to pitch in.

“We screwed the roof back on because it was pulling up in some places,” said Corbin, 17, “Now that the roof is more secure and there is not water leaking in it will keep the tools [in good condition] so she can keep her garden.”

Rebecca Judd, 29, who was also part of Youth Works, said the 4-year-old lot was really “weedy” when she first arrived — but she pulled out a large number before her shift was done. Judd added that she was glad to help Herb keep the garden in good shape, since Herb usually does most of the heavy lifting alone.

“It makes me feel great seeing the smile on her face and helping her get her garden [finished] as quick as she can,” Judd said.

To volunteer at the Ashford Street Abundance Garden contact herb.lyeta@gmail.com.