Garden Preservation
Brisas del Caribe

CONTACT: Mary and Angel Aponte

LOCATION: 237 East 3rd Street

The Brises del Caribe Garden is a 90 x 24 plot of land located at 237 East 3rd Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1986 this land was an abandoned city owned lot inhabited by rats, drug addicts and dealers, and strewn with refuse and toxic wastes. The garden was born thanks to the efforts of Mary and Angel Aponte, a neighborhood couple, who cleared out the garbage and told the addicts to go elsewhere.

The community group Green Guerrillas gave a lot of assistance to the Apontes in the beginning. In addition, they received many letters and petitions of support from the community board, the Church and other local community groups. When Operation Green Thumb and the City saw what had been accomplished in the garden, they agreed to a year-to-year lease for the Apontes, claiming it could only be year-to-year because the City might decided to sell the land.

Today, the Brises del Caribe Garden is a beautiful spot covered with trees and various plants such as tomatoes, roses, and morning glories. Many birds make their homes there, and the garden also features a pool with goldfish. The members, most of whom are Hispanic people from the immediate neighborhood, have invested a great deal of time, effort and love into the garden. Angel Aponte personally built and maintains the two wooden cabanas where people gather when the weather is cool and rainy.

The garden is the center of social life for its members. Many cultural and educational programs take place here, such as family reunions, parties and other informal get-togethers. Neighborhood children visit with their school classes; attendees from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe located across the street frequently stop by late into the evening. Mary Aponte says that she has met visitors from all over the world in her garden, which stays open seven days a week. Photographs of Brises del Caribe were featured in an exhibit about community gardens at the Museo del Barrio.

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