By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn is famous for its tree-lined blocks — especially Macon Street between Howard and Ralph avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Greenbridge, the community environmental horticulture program of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, named that block the 2014 Greenest Block in Brooklyn winner, which also won for Best Street Tree Beds.
“It's not only about the color green,” Borough President Eric Adams said. “It's about a place where you know there is an infusion of growing, healthy children and families. When you walk through this block, sit on the various porches and talk to the various people you realize that there is something special that is growing on this block. There is more than a tree is growing in Brooklyn.”
More than 200 blocks from all over the borough, from Brooklyn Heights to Coney Island and Canarsie, entered the 20-year-old contest, for a chance at a $300 prizes.
"This is personal, this is from the heart — I really, really love my block," said Felicia Kinscy, Macon Street, Ralph and Howard Block Association president. “My husband and I bought a house on this block after we got married and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.”
The contest, which began in 1994, included 30 neighborhoods and 20,000 Brooklynites who helped out. Judges drove around the borough for a full two weeks before making their decision. They considered several factors including variety of plants, street tree care, maintenance, use of color and community participation.
For the first time, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Children's Garden, there was a Best Children's Gardening Project award given out. The East 25th Street Block Association took home that award for its garden on East 25th Street between Clarendon Road and Avenue D in East Flatbush.
Brooklyn Heights’ Montague Street took home first place in the Greenest Commercial Block category.
“We've tried to create an urban oasis on Montague Street,” said Brigit Pinnell, executive director of the Montague Street BID.
“I think that people really enjoy having a nice place to shop. Hopefully it spurs economic development and is enjoyable for the people that come to our district. This would not have happened if it weren't for the immense work of our Vice President Estela Johannesen.”
The 6/15 Green Community Garden at Sixth Avenue and 15th Street in Park Slope took home the first National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award. Master Cuts Barbershop at Fifth St. Marks Place in Boerum Hill and Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local Grocery at 210 Patchen Avenue tied for the Greenest Storefront award.
The Best Community Garden Streetscape award went to The Red Shed Community Garden on Kingsland Avenue between Skillman Street and Maspeth Avenue in Williamsburg, and the Best Window Box award went to Pall Walton at 204 Maple St. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
“Greening a block is one of those rare acts with absolutely no downside,” Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s President Scot Medbury said. “In addition to creating beauty on a residential block, it increases block pride, brings neighbors together and it puts oxygen in the air. Everybody wins.”
Go to BBG.org/Greenbridge to see the second and third place winners as well as the honorable mentions.