Updated 07/03/2012 04:16 PM
NYer Of The Week: Lucia Hernandez Cultivates Garden For Her And Her Community's Health
Hidden on a residential street in the Bronx, this week's New Yorker has cultivated a haven to improve local food and friendships. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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Gardening saved Lucia Hernandez.
Twelve years ago, she was diagnosed with an acute bladder disease. She was unable to work and ended up homeless.
But today, she is working to save a garden in Hunts Point for both her and her community's health.
"It's like a pain killer," she says. "This is my medication. Coming here allows me to do things that I couldn't do outside."
"I got involved in the gardening and it helped me, helped me to think and relax and regenerate myself," she adds. "The garden was closed for six years. I opened it up. Then people started talking to me and they got to know me. There was garbage galore in this place."
Clearing out the trash, Lucia began to transform the Bryant Hill community garden with the help of local teens.
"This garden does a great job in showing how do you get the community caring for itself and feeding for itself," said volunteer Victor Davila. "Hunts Point, the area we are in right now, is a food desert, which is ironic because not very far from here is the Hunts Point food market. None of that food actually goes to this community."
Lucia is helping to change that by providing fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the garden to her neighbors for free. Sometimes, the generosity includes honey, which she extracts and sells in stores to help fund the garden.
"The first frame that I had, I just went to my friend across the street and I said 'I have a surprise for you,'" she says. "We started getting pieces of honey. It was so good with the comb.
The garden has become a hive in the community, buzzing with activity.
"Kids started coming in," Hernandez says. "They would help me plant and I would teach them how deep to put the plant and what kind of plant it was. When you give the vegetables, then you get more connections. More people come in."
So, for harvesting healthy food and helping her neighborhood blossom, Lucia Hernandez is our New Yorker of the Week.
For more information, visit www.nycbeekeeping.org