First waterfront community garden finds its way to Co-op City

The groundbreaking for Rivers Run Community Garden took place at 801 Co-op City Boulevard on Wednesday, October 29. Attendees at the event included (in no particular order) co founder and vice president of River Run Community Garden Leslie Peterson, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Congressman Eliot Engel’s office representative Maxine Sullivan, chairman of Community Board 10 Martin Prince, co-founders Gail Sharbaan and Denise Shelley, Riverbay Board of Director Francine Reva Jones, NY Botanical Garden Ursula Chance and directors from the Riverbay Corporation and Marion Scott Management.
Photo courtesy of Rivers Run Community Garden

There’s a new first in Co-op City.

The groundbreaking celebration at Rivers Run Community Garden was held at 801 Co-op City Boulevard on Wednesday, October 29, in recognition of Co-Op City’s first ever riverfront green space.

This project included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the planting of daffodil bulbs and seeds by members, volunteers and invited guests alongside the Waterfront Community Garden’s fence, symbolizing the beginning of an era for the brand new garden, which should flourish with green once winter concludes.

Thanks to the planning of Facilitators Building 13 Association, Inc., Riverbay Community Relations and Rivers Run Community Garden’s Steering Community – which include many Co-op City residents, along with collaborative partners including NYC Parks’ GreenThumb and the New York Botanical Garden, the 865 linear feet of Co-op City’s previously unused riverfront space will be the home of River Run Community Garden once completed, which is expected in the spring of 2015.

According to Facilitators Building 13 Association, Inc. treasurer and event coordinator and steering committee president Gail Sharbaan, the River Run Community Garden will raise the profile of Co-op City while showcasing healthy vegetables and herbs, garden artistry and environmental awareness.

The idea was originally birthed when members of the steering committee were viewing a site in Co-op City near I-95. Leslie Peterson, co-founder and vice president of Rivers Run Community Garden, suggested that they give her the opportunity to present the idea of developing the unused land by the waterfront to the community.

After visiting many existing garden locations with steering committee members, Leslie Peterson presented the idea to the Community Relations Committee and the Riverbay Corporation Board of Directors, both who agreed and were pleased to know that a promise made years ago was being kept, especially after numerous requests from residents to have a garden near Bay Plaza.

“We (Rivers Run Community Garden, the steering committee and all volunteering organizations) saw an opportunity to have a multi-faceted location promoting healthy living for healthy minds,” said Peterson, who believes that the Rivers Run Community Garden will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on Co-op City.

“This community garden will provide a sense of community and an appreciation for the environment, preserving our green space, while eliminating the sense of isolation.”

Since winter is approaching, the River Run Community Garden may not see much planting immediately, but organizations lending a helping hand will still be landscaping and constructing walkways, while maintaining the area by keeping it clean, raising flower beds and laying mulch in certain areas of the garden.

According to Community Board 10 chairman Martin Prince, this is only the beginning.

“This conjoined effort of organizations, mostly consisting of volunteering Co-op City residents, may result in the River Run Community Garden connecting with the Greenway in the near future,” he said.

“I commend the organizations that are volunteering their time and effort towards this groundbreaking, as well as Leslie Peterson for her hard work to turn the dream of this garden into a reality. This is quite an ambitious projects, and I congratulate her.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 742–3384. E-mail him at sgood‌stein‌@cngl‌ocal.com.

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