The Fortune Society Kicks Off Rooftop Gardening Season In West Harlem

Patch reports that on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, The Fortune Society  kicked off its 2018 Rooftop Horticulture Program for formerly incarcerated and formerly homeless clients as well as for families who live at Castle Gardens – Fortune’s supportive permanent housing on West 140th Street in West Harlem. Even though the rooftop garden was still covered in snow, the group of about 15 gardeners spread out in the Castle Gardens community room, rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty learning the art of seed-starting, plant propagation and houseplant care (see photo). Fortune is one of the nation’s most respected nonprofit organizations serving and advocating for formerly incarcerated men and women.

Under the guidance of horticulturalist Deborah Shaw, Fortune’s stunning rooftop oasis called Sky Garden, (see photo) with its expansive views of the Hudson River and Riverside Park, produces a rich assortment of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers every year. Shaw notes that most of the gardeners actively use their plots to cultivate food for home.

Sam Rivera, Fortune’s Associate Vice President of Housing, said, “It’s undeniable that Fortune’s Sky Garden is a beautiful, bountiful and tranquil oasis in the middle of West Harlem. But it offers so much more to our clients and the residents of Castle Gardens. It has created a true sense of community and a place of healing for citizens who are coming home from incarceration or who have experienced homelessness or both. Fortune thanks Deborah Shaw, as well as our clients and Castle Garden residents, for bringing such a wondrous place to life. I’m looking forward to another great harvest in the fall.”

Shaw added, “We have a dedicated and talented group of gardeners at Castle Gardens who produce ample harvests of vegetables and herbs on the rooftop every season. Plans have been made, seeds have arrived, and our fingers are itching to get back into the soil in preparation for another fabulous growing season. It’s an incomparable experience to raise a tomato, eggplant or squash from a tiny seed to a place of pride on your table.”

Among the crops grown at Fortune’s Sky Garden are eggplant, tomatoes, collard greens, peppers, cucumbers, squash, tubers, strawberries and various herbs (see photo). Beautiful flowers abound as well.

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Founded in 1967, The Fortune Society has advocated on criminal justice issues for more than five decades and is nationally recognized for developing model programs that help people with criminal justice histories to be assets to their communities. Fortune offers a holistic and integrated model of comprehensive service provision. Among the services offered are discharge planning, licensed outpatient substance use and mental health treatment, benefits enrollment and access, alternatives to incarceration, HIV/AIDS case management, health services, career development and job retention, education, family services, and supportive housing as well as lifetime access to aftercare.

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