As he approached his Eagle Scout project, Marc was working with Scoutmasters like John Dougherty and Geoff Kerr who are still garden members today. He was also learning blueprints and drafting in classes at Brooklyn Tech High School. And the Roosevelt Island Garden Club had just moved to a new location at Octagon Park.
After looking at the new space that was just flat earth lined by small trees, Marc came up with an idea to build raised planters. So he made a proposal to the RIGC Board for the creation of garden spaces for persons with disabilities, now known as H plots from the former term « handicapped. »
When Marc went to the Rusk Institute to do research, he was asked to spend an afternoon in a wheelchair to see first hand what it is like to have some movement restrictions. He realized that he would need varied heights for the beds for some tall folks and some shorter folks. He wanted to create spaces that could be approached like a desk and originally imagined two gardeners sharing each H plot bed.
The design was drawn up and approved. The space would need to be bulldozed and then leveled in order to create steps in increments and different heights. Construction took a month or more and Mark’s mom, Marilyn Atkins recalls a day or two when she had to call his school to excuse him as he waited for the contractor with the bulldozer and the contractor for the cement and drainage pipes. Marc remembers using cinder blocks to build the beds and teaching younger scouts to spread the cement mix over them.
« Then Dr. Sudzin was one of the first gardeners to take an H plot. » Marc recalled with satisfaction. Diversity of many sorts is one of the best parts of Roosevelt Island. Remembering this story reminds one of all the individual and group volunteer hours that have been and still are spent creating and maintaining our beautiful garden spaces.
Marc Atkins, LMT is still making people’s lives better today as he does massage therapy and energy work and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.