By Nina Medvinskaya

Visitors at 2019 Making Brooklyn Bloom at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Alvina Lai. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Saturday, March 9th – Brooklyn Botanic Garden recently kicked off spring gardening season by celebrating the 38th annual Making Brooklyn Bloom event. Gardening enthusiasts gathered to participate in a full day of conversations, presentations, and workshops brimming with valuable information and networking opportunities. The collaborative energy was palpable— this year’s theme honored BBG programs that work hand-in-hand with New York communities to grow greener city blocks. The event’s early birds were met by dozens of local greening and social justice organizations, at the Garden’s glass-gilded Palm House, eager to spread awareness and recruit members to their immersive community-oriented projects.

The selection of workshops to choose from was dizzying with options including cozying up to carnivorous plants, learning about the intricacies of at-home worm composting, and digging into the details of our ancestral seed histories. Although I couldn’t resist getting my carnivorous plant fix, I got the dish on all the workshops from fellow attendees who were eagerly exchanging workshop stories as soon as lunch broke out. The curious, collaborative, and committed energy of the crowd was impossible to resist, and I effortlessly found myself wrapped up in its collective knowledge-swapping spirit.

The centerpiece of the event was an inspiring keynote address delivered by the garden mentors of the 300 East 25th Street Block Association. The six women who graced the stage were true veterans of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition, having won the title consecutive times with their unbelievably verdant block. All women of immigration, they told stories of how they found home in the U.S. through gardening and how they cultivated a neighborhood family through the care they invested in nurturing their land. Their address was both a testament to those that keep NYC’s green heart beating as well as an invitation for others to join in the efforts. An enthusiastic visitor summed up the day’s ethos best:

“This event feels like coming home each spring to ‘my people,’ and to the faith that good people are doing amazing things all over, no matter how bad things get around us.”