Credit: Kathleen Odonnell

Heaps of dead leaves from falls past were piled up in rotted flower beds. An uprooted tree lay on the grass next to a semi-drained pond. Old mannequins and wooden cut outs littered the expansive tree-lined park. Just another sunny Saturday in Harlem.

On Saturday April 26, more than a dozen Sugar Hill community members gathered to give a bit of tender, loving care to one of the largest community gardens in Northern Manhattan, Eden’s Acres. The garden, located between 152nd and 153rd streets, stretches the entire block from St. Nicholas Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue.

According to neighborhood residents, the area served as a city water waterway early in its history and was later used as a dumping ground before the Department of Environmental Protection took control of the land and transformed it into a community garden. In recent years, however, efforts to maintain the garden have fallen by the wayside, until now.

Saturday’s clean-up event and barbecue was viewed as a success by new Sugar Hill Resident, Jason Simone. “The amount of work we got done was pretty unexpected,” Simone said. “It’s a huge space and I didn’t think we’d get much accomplished.” By the end of the event, dozens of trash bags with old leaves and piles of broken supplies and decoration had been gathered up.

Simone hopes the garden will serve the community as a gathering place. “I think most of the people who came out really plan to use the garden, so we were all very invested,” Simone stated. “The garden is a perfect example of people coming together to create something that everyone will benefit from. I’m excited to stay involved.”