Spring General Meeting 2022
If you were unable to attend, take a few minutes to watch the meeting power point for news items and reminders.
The family of one of our long time, founding members, Peter Blake, who passed away in May 2016, recently honored their husband, father, and grandfather with a gift to RIGC. They continued his longstanding tradition of being a generous friend to Roosevelt Island Garden Club. The Blakes have donated a special teak glider for members and visitors alike to enjoy a moment of quiet rest in the garden.
Neal Weissman, RIGC president, and Sande Elinson, RIGC Secretary, and the Board worked with the Blakes on this idea. Sande and Mitch waited and met the delivery van on a hot July day to receive this beautiful gift.
Claire Blake and her daughter, Rebecca Blake Korhammer, as well as all three grandchildren, Ryan, Maxwell, and Summer came out to the gardens on Monday evening, July 31, to try out the new bench.
We thank them all for this very lovely addition to our garden site.
Honoring Ali as Past President
Marc Atkins was a young adult, turning 18 on Roosevelt Island in 1992. Persons with disabilities were regularly part of his life. His pediatrician, Dr. Sudzin was learning to live after a stroke and another friend, Sam Brown, who was wheelchair bound, had often taken him fishing when he was younger. Marc noticed that hospitals like Goldwater were using gardening for rehabilitation.
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.
Peter Blake died on May 12th, 2016 at age 84 from complications after open heart surgery. He loved his garden so much and always gave a donation each year with his dues. Peter and his wife, Claire, go back as members of RIGC to the gardens over the subway, as evidenced in one of our earliest master lists from 1989. He was part of the gardening team who built our current gardens in Octagon Park. Peter loved growing tomatoes and helped us with gravel raking last spring for the pathways project. He brought the most delicious bread to our fall harvest picnic at Rivercross last November. A longtime Post copy editor, Peter Blake's obit is a tribute to this "kind, strict, loving, and funny" grandfather, fisherman, gardener, and more. His steady, quiet presence and wry humor will be sorely missed by those who knew him in our club.
It was a historic moment when Roosevelt Island's historian, Judy Berdy, asked the Roosevelt Island Garden Club to help with plantings in front of the Tourist Visitor Center down hill from the Tram station. With the upcoming celebration of the Tram's 40th birthday, we jumped into action. We joined forces with the tram operators by stringing their hose and hooking up three of our hoses to get water all the way to the visitor center and a small team of volunteers (Neal Weissman, Julia Ferguson, Sande Elinson, Curtis Lowrey, and JT Poirier, one of our wait-list connections) pitched in and helped with the planting of new roses, hyssop, and portuluca rose moss. Now when people come home on the tram, they can look down and see some additional beauty which wasn't there before.
Garden Snapshots: History
We all know the memorial rock under the cottonwood! How many have noticed the plaque on the front, rectangular picnic table? They commemorate fellow gardeners who worked very hard on our garden's infrastructure.
Last summer Henry Tamao shared these pictures of former gardeners who were known and loved by many. They worked very hard for the club and the for the beautiful site that we enjoy today! John Richards was one of our garden presidents and Edgar"Sammy" Rodriguez was an active member. These snapshots were taken at a picnic celebrating the Dress up Your Neighborhood garden award in 1988 at the current site of the Octagon apartment building at 888 Main Stree. Check out our Photos Page for other treasured memories.(Scroll down to find them!)
John Dougherty and Ron Musto are now heading up planning and initiation of RIGC archives and history. Let us know if we can listen to you reminisce and record your thoughts and knowledge for the project or send in a picture from your files or your own garden "bio" to join us. Contact: email@example.com
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