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City Green Helps Our Great Falls Youth Center Bloom

City Green Helps Our Great Falls Youth Center Bloom

October 24, 2023

NJCDC opened the Great Falls Youth Center in 2018 as a safe space for Paterson high school students to spend time outside of school. Last fall, we broke ground on an expansion to the Youth Center, which will provide more space for the growing number of students who attend to explore their interests. In addition to the new construction, however, we also wanted to make the outdoor space more welcoming to our youth. Thanks to a recent Dig In! Tree, Bulb, & Native Perennial grant from our friends at City Green, we were able to start doing just that, planting a pollinator garden along the walkways and entrance in front of the Youth Center. Dig In! Grants are available to eligible Passaic County groups and municipalities through a partnership with Passaic County.

City Green recently brought a variety of perennials to the Youth Center for the students to plant. Before planting began, Liz and Carmen from City Green introduced themselves to our students and provided insight about the new flowers. Each plant is expected to flower at different times, ensuring the outdoor space remains beautiful and welcoming throughout the year. Moreover, all of the plants are native to New Jersey, minimizing the effort required from the students to maintain them. Many of the plants also attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies — which are not only good for the environment, but also fun for the students to observe!

Tiffany Shepherd, the Director of the Great Falls Youth Center, expressed her gratitude to City Green for providing the plants, stating, "I'm thankful that you guys are here. I'm thankful to add to the aesthetic of the neighborhood, the beauty of it...Just making the Great Falls Youth Center look more welcoming and homey!

Luckily for the students, the planting area had been prepared by our Great Falls Youth Corps members in August, so the soil was healthy and easy to dig up. The students quickly got to work laying out their new garden and carefully selected spots for each plant. After every plant had a place, the students started planting. They were excited about the work they were doing to make their space more beautiful, and each of them is looking forward to seeing what the different flowers will look like as they grow. Now the front of the Youth Center has been completely transformed, with a variety of plants welcoming students, including asters, black-eyed Susans, Echinacea, and mountain mint.

Planting is the best thing ever! I love nature," said Kimora, a student at the Great Falls Youth Center. Thanks to the hard work of Kimora and her fellow students to get the garden started, visitors and students at the Youth Center will be able to appreciate the beauty of nature for years to come!

We're grateful to City Green for not only providing our students with the flowers, but also the opportunity to plant them. Gardens have the potential to physically improve neighborhoods, beautifying the area and providing space to enjoy nature — even in urban environments like Paterson. Additionally, they serve as valuable educational tools for our students to learn about the environment. We look forward to continuing our partnership with City Green to plant gardens throughout the Great Falls Neighborhood. They are an integral part of the collaborative group working to implement the new Great Falls Neighborhood Plan, supported by recent funding from the Regional Foundation!

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