Volunteers at the Tree of Life Organic Garden. Courtesy of 103rd Precinct
BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
During an encounter with a group of elderly women, two officers from the 103rd Precinct’s Steady Sector David were moved by the commitment that the women had to keeping up their gardens.
The Trees of Life Organic Garden, located at 106-18 173rd St. in Jamaica, has been a part of the community since 1998. And with the new gardening season approaching, a group of five women have taken on the challenging task of maintaining it.
Officers Cohen and Acevedo noticed women in walkers and canes moving busily about in an area filled with junk—and they were immediately alarmed. When they asked the women what they were doing and how they could help, the women told them, “We are getting our garden ready for the season and could use as much help as we could get.”
In addition to Cohen donating pepper plants from his personal garden, the entire 103rd Precinct Community Affairs Unit got involved in the effort. Determined to assist the women, the unit reached out to members of the community in an attempt to address the needs of the community gardeners.
After meeting with a gardening guru who goes by the name Ms. Alberta, Sgt. Khadija Fiason contacted two community girl groups—Complete Girlz, Inc. and Pretty Brown Girls—to assist in the community mission.
When the two organizations responded enthusiastically to the request, Fiason asked Ms. Alberta if she would be willing to teach and mentor the young girls throughout the project. She agreed to do so.
The Pretty Brown Girls began volunteering on June 8 to restore the garden for the new season and will continue to work at the site for the next two weeks. Complete Girlz Inc. will volunteer throughout the summer—and then Pretty Brown Girls will begin again at the start of the school year and assist until November.
With Ms. Alberta’s expertise on the importance and benefits of various trees, plants and herbs, the women will mentor the youth groups in horticulture during gardening sessions.
Royal Waste Services, a waste management service in Jamaica and community partner, is also volunteering to lend its support to the project. The company will also donate compost and various gardening supplies.
Faison said that the “Trees of Togetherness” project—which is operated through the precinct’s Neighborhood Coordinating Officer program—is an initiative to continue building better relationships between the community and police.
The 103rd Precinct Community Affairs department said that it is still attempting to enlist members of the community to support and join the project.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org