New York Today: The Greenest Block in Brooklyn

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And the winner is…

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Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Good morning on this sunlit Monday.

This morning we bring you the winner of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn, a contest that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has hosted for more than two decades.

Drum roll, please.

And the award goes to: Stuyvesant Avenue, between Bainbridge and Chauncey Streets.

We visited the Bedford-Stuyvesant block to better understand what it means to be the “greenest.”

On first glance, this greenest block actually appeared to be quite beige. (Light brown, even.) We saw a great deal of stone and concrete: brownstones and townhouses with high stoops and bulky front porches.

So we asked Nina Browne, the botanic garden’s community program manager, who has overseen the competition for years and trains the judges, how the winner is chosen.

The most important of all the judging criteria, she said, is citizen participation, measured, for example, by looking for gaps in the presence of gardening on the street.

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“It boils down to people more than plants,” Ms. Browne said. “It’s where you get that tangible sense of love. Which block really felt the most unified? Where is that sense of community really most palpable? That’s urban resilience right there.”

There are three rounds of judging over the summer conducted by horticulturists, volunteers, and trustees and leaders of the botanic garden, who begin by giving each block a score to determine the finalists. After roughly 150 blocks were carefully reviewed, the finalists all seemed equally vibrant with plant material, Ms. Browne explained.

“So at that point, it’s really about people power,” she said, referring to the sense of civic engagement and community cohesion among those who live there.

We poked around the block last week and saw planters and urns of blooms in every color of the rainbow. Green Virginia creeper vines and Taxus hedges lined porches. Blue edging lobelia and purple million bells brightened the sidewalks. White and yellow petunias and rosy-red garden verbena plants were overflowing from barrels.

“It’s a testament to what people can do, despite not having dirt to dig in,” Ms. Browne said of the city street.

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