“A Little Piece of Paradise in the Shadow of BQE”

On July 15, Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav and NYC Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford visited Center for Family Life’s 64th Street Community Garden project to mark the launch of the third annual Summer of Service Initiative. The project, led by the Center’s PS 503/PS 506 Neighborhood Center Director John KixMiller, engages youth and adults inSunsetPark to renovate and maintain the garden, including beautifying the area, fixing gardening beds, and planting, tending to and harvesting crops. The project also hosts a series of events, including the “Fresh Food Festival” in August, to raiseSunsetPark residents’ awareness of this green space and the importance of healthy nutrition.  

Mr. KixMiller and his team of young people are engaging many children in day camp each day, making gardening a specialty activity for more than 500 day campers at PS 503/PS 506, PS 1 and MS 136/MS 821, including students with special needs. “We began work on this garden because our young people wanted to learn more about the food they eat,” John KixMiller said. “This year, we are expanding the project by adding a pumpkin patch that the youth can harvest during our Halloween Festival. After two ‘fruitful’ years, it’s clear that our young people take away more then just the flowers, fruits and vegetables we grow; they learn about the environment and the key to a healthy and balanced diet – something that they will take with them throughout the rest of their lives.”

Julie Brockway, Co-Director of Center for Family Life, said “John and his staff are doing an incredible job in this little piece of paradise in the shadow of the BQE.  It was such a treat to see our young people sharing their knowledge and leading the younger children in a variety of garden activities, all of which were happening simultaneously in small groups within the garden.”

We are grateful for DYCD’s support for this initiative, as well as to the Neuberger Berman Foundation, which funds the Summer of Service Program.

Here is a photo gallery from the 64th Street Community Garden:

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