Sharon Keller

Excerpts adapted from original article written by John Ewing

Just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, NYRP’s Seagirt Boulevard Community Garden is located in the heart of Far Rockaway, Queens. In October 2012, along with the surrounding neighborhood, Seagirt bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge that devastated the community. Inundated by four feet of salt water, the garden’s vegetable beds, rainwater harvesting system, and other structures were left in shambles. Knowing how important this beloved green space is to the community, we got busy cleaning and restoring the garden for spring planting and a brighter future.

“This restoration has been a godsend—it’s a beacon of hope and regrowth,” says garden coordinator Sharon Keller, a Far Rockaway resident for nearly 25 years who is helping spread the word. “Wherever I go, I tell people there’s a garden in our area and it’s available for community interests. People are surprised sometimes to even hear about it.”

A long-time gardener, Sharon extols the value of garden-to-table cooking as a necessity to healthy living—a lesson she learned at an early age from her Shinnecock Indian grandmother. “Seagirt is a blessing. I suffer from Lupus, and I can grow organic vegetables of my choice full of bioenergy that I know are pure like leafy greens, carrots, potatoes, even watermelon. I am so lucky to have found a place in the urban setting that I can garden.”  

Watch Sharon on PBS’ coverage of the storm’s aftermath.