Western Brooklyn

Harvest Fair: Community Garden Edition

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Bountiful baskets (Photo Esther Shittu / BKLYNER)

Last Saturday’s GreenThumb Harvest Fair gathered community gardeners from across the city at the Brooklyn Bears Pacific Garden for a chance to celebrate the end of the growing season, connect with each other, and – of course! – win prizes for their produce.

“Our gardens are places that families enjoy for recreation,” GreenThumb Director Bill Losasso said. “They go in there and they learn how to garden. Sometimes they come together and they help start a garden.”

Members of the Phoenix Community Garden in Brownsville, (Photo Esther Shittu / BKLYNER)

“Our gardens give benefit to everybody in New York City, regardless of whether or not you choose to garden or grow vegetables,” Losasso added.  

Susan Staaislaw chanced upon the Fair on her way to visit her mother, and said the Fair helped her and her children, alleviating the bad day they were having.

“Small things like this need to be enlarged, because things like this are making people of all cultures unite and gather and enjoy each other’s company, rather than separate,” Staaislaw said.

“It’s empowering. My children and I suffer from depression, anxiety, and [here] we’re having a good time. We were actually suffering severely before we got here. As we got [here], it stopped. We stopped crying, we stopped being scared and frustrated, it’s amazing.”

Gardeners had entered for prizes under categories such as Best-looking Tomatoes, not to be confused with Best-tasting Tomatoes, Longest Squash, Roses, Bountiful Basket, and more.

Tiffany Mitchelle and Rosita Michelle from Upon This Rock Community Gardens. Tiffany won first place for Eggplants, and peppers, as well as bountiful baskets categories. Rosita won 2nd place in the hot peppers category. (Photo Esther Shittu / BKLYNER)

Tiffany Mitchelle, member of the Upon This Rock Community Garden in East New York received several prizes including First Place for the Roses, and Bountiful Basket categories. 

Mitchelle has been coming to the harvest fair since she was nine years old. “I love the event, I love the competition with the foods and vegetables,” she said. Community gardens are “more of a relaxing place, a place to talk, laugh, barbeque, a nice comfortable place to be together.”

Winners of GreenThumb garden awards Photo Esther Shittu/BKLYNER)

Local community gardens and gardeners were awarded Lifetime Achievement Award, the Greening Partner Award, Community Engagement Award and more.

Heron Valazquez of Batey Borincano Community Garden in the Bronx, won several awards for tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumber and marigolds. (Photo Esther Shittu / BKLYNER)

The Lifetime Achievement Award for an Individual was given to Jenny Benitez, the leader of Jenny’s Garden. When receiving her award, Benitez said that her commitment to the garden has always been for others.

“I always did this for the community, for the children,” she said.

Benitez started her garden thirty-eight years ago as a way to produce vegetables, to organize the community and to be there for everybody.

Fresh Chef contest participants with Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver (middle) (Photo Esther Shittu/ BKLYNER)

Other activities during the Harvest Fair included the Fresh Chef contest, pumpkin carving, bike smoothies and Zumba.

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