The Sacred Place at Beach 41st Street Houses in New York is one of the many community gardens within the Nature Sacred Network. It had been a vital part of the community for more than two decades when it was suddenly destroyed in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck and devastated much of Queens. The garden’s 30 plots were washed away by the storm surge. After the water receded, one year passed and then another; weeds were thriving where residents had once cultivated vegetables and flowers.
Then in early 2015, change arrived. Supported by a National Nature Sacred Awards grant, the garden was restored and improved through an effort involving social scientists from the US Forest Service, researchers from Cornell University, community members and organizers, and landscape designers. Today, the plots are reclaimed and once again thriving. Added to the garden area: a pavilion and benches to further encourage community building and individual reflection.
As with all National Nature Sacred Awards projects, the Queens community garden has also doubled as a research site. Here, scientists observed and learned how community engagement in greening efforts aids in social resilience following a disaster.
If you would like to learn more, watch our film Hurricane Healing Garden.