Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and revitalizing parks, community gardens and public space in New York City, has announced the upcoming opening of the Target Bronx Community Garden on October 6, 2009.

Underwritten by Target, the garden was designed by nationally acclaimed designer and television host Sean Conway. Conway’s plan joins two existing community gardens with very different histories, creating a gathering space for neighborhood activity as well as a refuge for quiet contemplation.

The Target Bronx Community Garden will connect the Anderson Community Garden with the adjoining Woodycrest Community Garden to create a unique multi-use space. The large Anderson Community Garden is a joyful gathering space, welcoming neighbors and children from the elementary school across the street for more than 25 years. The Woodycrest Community Garden is a small parcel of land that has become an unofficial memorial in tribute to those lost in a fire in 2007.

“Once again we are thrilled with the work that Target and Sean Conway have done to make this garden a vital part of the neighborhood,” said Bette Midler, Founder of NYRP. “We applaud the ongoing commitment that Target has to underserved communities. Like NYRP, they recognize that each time they help create a beautiful oasis in a neighborhood, they invest in the future of the whole city.”

The Target Bronx Community Garden is the third New York Restoration Project garden revitalization initiative that Target has supported. NYRP celebrated the opening of the Target Community Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in October 2007 and the opening of the Target East Harlem Community Garden in October 2008, both of which were also designed by Sean Conway.

“Target is proud to join with New York Restoration Project on the opening of the third Target Community Garden,” said Laysha Ward, president, community relations, Target. “We hope that the garden will become a welcoming green space for the neighborhood and the entire Bronx community to enjoy.”

Sean Conway was inspired by the local community to design the Target Bronx Community Garden as a place for family, friends, and neighbors to gather, garden, and relax outdoors in their own neighborhood. Combining two adjacent properties provided the unique opportunity to create one large multi-functional open space not often found in urban neighborhoods. From the entrance at Woodycrest Avenue, garden visitors will pass through a small grove of trees which commemorate the lives of those lost in a tragic neighborhood fire in 2007. Next visitors will enter into a large open area which contains a large grass space for celebrations and gatherings, an outdoor kitchen where visitors can prepare meals al fresco, an elevated wooden sundeck, newly planted fruit trees and a berry patch, as well as raised open plots for community vegetable gardening. A third feature of the garden is the renovated rock outcropping which highlights the rugged natural beauty of this Bronx neighborhood. The elevated slope faces the community’s public elementary school on Anderson Avenue and will provide a welcoming invitation for neighborhood children to explore the outdoors in their own back yard.

“After learning about the tragedy in this community several years ago that claimed so many innocent lives, I wanted to design a place that commemorated those who died, while creating a place where the neighborhood could gather, spend time together and get to know one another,” said Sean Conway.

NYRP and Sean Conway have outfitted the garden with numerous sustainable and energy-saving features. In the past, community gardeners have found creative ways to meet their needs, such as building an outdoor kitchen from recycled scrap material. The new kitchen area of the Target Bronx Community Garden will feature a grill, gas burners, granite countertops and stainless steel cabinets for storage space. The new garden will also employ a rainwater harvesting system, enhancing the community gardeners’ own innovative water tank and tap system. Additional features of the garden are a compost area to recycle organic household and yard waste and a special composting toilet.

Since 2007, when NYRP partnered with community members to improve the existing garden, NYRP environmental educators welcome students from neighboring P.S. 73 into the garden in the fall for science activities that explore the senses, food chains and plant and animal habitats. The re-designed green space will feature expanded activities, including cooking demonstrations, gardener workshops, youth environmental education, summer concerts and community movie nights.

The Target Bronx Community Garden will also become home to NYRP’s annual Harvest Festival. On Saturday, October 10, this community-based event will engage local families and students in celebrating the season and urban agriculture through the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. This year’s Harvest Festival will feature cooking demonstrations—including homemade salsa and corn tortilla making—led by culinary students, garden tours, a youth-sponsored produce market, arts and crafts, and a live concert by the renowned Puerto Rican band Yerba Buena.

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