Brook Park on CBS News. Alternatives to Incarceration

Check out the awesome work of Ray from our team in partnership with Community Connections for Youth towards keeping youth out of the juvenile justice system and positively connected to community!  Timely.

Click the photo to see the video.



Fighting for kids’ futures: It’s a community thing

Ray Figueroa has lived in Harlem for most of his adult life, but he says the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx is “where his life is.”

Figueroa works with a grassroots nonprofit called Community Connections for Youth (CCFY), running an urban garden in Brook Park. It’s one of the organization’s so-called diversion programs for youth involved in the corrections system, providing “productive activities for young people to engage in, in order to avoid criminal activity.

On a recent Saturday in the park, Figueroa commented that many of the community’s young residents around Brook Park “have been touched by the criminal justice system in at some point in their lives.”

Ray Figueroa teaches neighborhood youth how to cultivate Brook Park

“The CCFY initiative here … was responsible for really bringing this vision to bear, of– let’s look at community based resources that can help address this issue [of youth incarceration] and provide community-based alternatives to incarceration of young people,” said Figueroa.

Juvenile justice reform and diverting youth from incarceration has gained momentum among the state’s policymakers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently launched a campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility in the state – from 16 to 18 – while also stressing the importance of community programs to complement this kind of legislative reform.

“Over the course of three years, in excess of 100 youth that were involved in the program were successfully redirected firm being incarcerated,” said Figueroa, referencing a three-year pilot program implemented by CCFY and certified by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The program found participants were significantly less likely to be rearrested, and the youth they served remained involved in community support networks beyond the duration of their court mandates.

Youths involved in Figueroa’s diversion program in a neighborhood pizzeria

“Working in the garden – it was the best thing in my life,” said 18-year-old Mott Haven resident Junior Leiva, who has known Figueroa for almost three years. “Ray’s like a big brother to me.”

Leiva was arrested last year and spent a few nights in jail in Brooklyn.

“I was with my friends, hanging out, and one of them had a gun. … We was playing on the roof of a building, so they charged us with trespassing too,” he said.

“I remember Ray came into court and gave the judge a letter. I don’t know what the letter said, but they let me go,” he said, smiling sheepishly. Leiva is in his final year of high school and says he would like to go to the University of California, Berkeley.

Donnell Matthews says CCFY changed his life

Groups like CCFY work with the Department of Probation in neighborhoods with high incarceration rates. Mott Haven has many so-called “million dollar blocks” – blocks full of people who end up in the criminal justice system, costing the state millions.

‘We are responsible for supervising and monitoring young people in the community,” said Bronx Juvenile Borough Director Stacye Spear. “And I think that’s an important service and role we play, because we want the children to stay in the community.”

“Probation has taken a different approach, basically,” said William Coachman, who has been a probation officer for more than 25 years. He currently works out of the Probation Department’s South Bronx NeOn building, across the street from Bronx Family Court.

The South Bronx NeOn building offers classes for children, after-school and community activities, and a communal space for visitors.

“People aren’t running away from probation, they’re coming to probation,” said Coachman. “If you’re supposed to see a kid once every two weeks, they wanna see you every week.”

A group of youths in front of the Probation Department’s South Bronx NeOn building

New York’s five Family Courts, which have jurisdiction over juvenile cases, refer about 4,500 youth to the Department of Probation every year. Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds who commit a crime are treated as adults and not juveniles and these cases go through adult criminal court. A bill is currently pending that would raise the age of criminal responsibility and transfer 86 percent of cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds to family court. Many of these would end up with the Department of Probation.

“We’re looking forward to it [the bill], we’re open to it,” said Spear. “It’s gonna be a big lift and a lot of stakeholders understand that, but I think it’s gonna work out.”

“It’s going to be better for everyone.”

Brook Park at Bronx Museum of the Arts

Register and RSVP online here.TimeMachine_8x11Studio REV- & Friends of Brook Park present:


A living, growing, teeming time machine that takes visitors back in history to learn how humans shaped the Bronx — and envision what role we can play in shaping an ecologically-sustainable future. 

Join us for a creative workshop at the Bronx Museum where you’ll brainstorm and co-create signage and the garden’s broader vision.

Saturday, May 30th


For youth 11 yrs +

Free lunch! 

Register and RSVP online here.


Bronx Museum of the Arts

1040 Grand Concourse

Bronx, New York 10456

T: 718-681-6000

D or B trains to 167 St. Stop

Register and RSVP online here.

With Support and funding from our excellent partners:

NOAA LOGOBronxMuseum_Logo250x150wcslogo

Sign up for the Summer 2015 Farm Share!

Dear Shareholders & Friends,

Happy Spring! 

It’s time to sign up for the Summer 2015 Farm Share!
This season, we are offering a one-size mixed share. The share includes 8 to 11 types of vegetables along with 1 or 2 types of fruit, and a weekly rotation between dried beans and multigrain tortillas!


Additional options this season:

* Egg Shares: A dozen brown antibiotic-free, hormone-free eggs, laid by the pastured chickens at Handsome Brook Farm.

* Fruit Shares: Two additional fruit items grown by New York State farmers.

Sites and delivery days:

Check our expanding list of sites here, which offer distribution on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays. We’ll be adding new sites within the next couple weeks, so stay tuned!

Want to see all the details? Check out our Summer 2015 Farm Share Guide. Also see our FAQ and Shareholder Commitment. 

Ready to enroll? Go to and click on Summer Farm Share! Summer Share deliveries will be for 23 weeks, from June 16th to November 18th, the week before Thanksgiving.

Questions? Email us at or call us at (718) 578-3610.


We are looking forward to the new season! Hope to see you soon.

Your Friends at Corbin Hill


“Supplying fresh food where it is needed most”

“Llevamos alimentos frescos a las áreas más necesitadas”

Immigrant Rights & let’s Barter Around the Block

Acto de ApoyoAND:

Let’s Barter Around the Block!

The first gathering will be on Saturday, April 25th, at 2pm.  

(This will happen just before an event happening at the garden, “Acto de Apoyo al 1 de Mayo,” which starts at 3pm on April 25th, and which Victor, an organizer of the event, invites everyone to come!–flyer for that is attached.)

Location will be Brook Park Community Garden (between Willis Ave. and Brook Ave., on the north side of the garden facing 141st Street).  Look for a group of people gathered in a circle.

There will be barley tea.  Feel free to just bring yourself and your friendship.  

Please write back to mention if you will be joining!



Hola de su vecino,


Ahora que el clima se está poniendo bonito afuera …

Algunas personas han estado discutiendo una nueva idea …

Para que la gente se reuna en el Brook Park cada various meses, como vecinos y / o miembros de la comunidad que organizan aqui, para reunirse, para saludarse, para tener un intercambio de amistad, habilidades y energías .. .

Vamos a Trueques Alrededor del Bloque!

La primera reunión será el sábado, 25 de abril a las 2 pm.

(Esto ocurrirá justo antes de que ocurra un evento en el jardín, “Acto de Apoyo al 1 de Mayo”, que comienza a las 3pm del 25 de abril, y que Víctor, uno de los organizadores del evento, esta invitaneo a todos a venir – se adjunta volante.)

Lugar será Brook Park Community Garden (entre Willis Ave. y Brook Avenue, en el lado norte del jardín frente a la Calle 141). Busque un grupo de personas se reunieron en un círculo.

Habrá té de cebada. Siéntase libre de simplemente llevar a si mismo y su amistad.

Por favor dejeme saboer si se unirá!


In Court Again to Protect Our Environment!

UPDATE: Thanks to all who came out today a rainy Monday morning!  Over a dozen members of the coalition helped pack the Courtroom. Our legal team was stellar and the facts and law are on the side of our community. There was new evidence previously undisclosed to the Judge and our community.  Stay tuned and get involved!

South Bronx vs FreshDirect 

Where: Bronx Supreme Court – East 161st Street and Grand Concourse

When: Monday, April 20


8:30 am – Fliering/press conference ( 161st St. side of building)

9:00 am – Enter court (Room 405A, Judge Mary Brigantti-Hughes)

Can public land be used by a private developer with no public benefit? 


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Join South Bronx Unite in the courtroom as New York Lawyers for the Public Interest argue (with newly discovered (aka previously withheld) information) on a motion to renew to allow standing to sue on this important issue.

South Bronx Environmental Justice Waterfront Bike Tour & Tree Giveaway

South Bronx Environmental Justice Waterfront Bike Tour & Tree Giveaway
When: Sunday, April 19th | 11-1:30: Bike Tour | 1:30-3:30: Tree Giveaway
Where: Meet at Brook Park, East 141st Street and Brook Avenue
(and let us know if you need a bike)
Participants of all ages will visit sites along the community-designed Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan, including the proposed Lincoln Avenue waterfront park, the 132nd Street pier and the historic Port Morris gantries.  Participants will also learn about local organizing campaigns against subsidies to the trucking company FreshDirect as well as pollution and unjust land use from polluting fossil fuel power plants and waste transfer facilities that line the Bronx Kill waterway. Hurricane Sandy hit this flood zone during low tide, causing 4.5 foot flooding in the area, with forceful waves that ripped a pier from its concrete foundation. The tour, organized together with Times Up!, will highlight the community’s longstanding vision for the public waterfront land, who is working with the community and who is working against the community. At 1:30, we will return to Brook Park to join Friends of Brook Park, Per Scholas and New York Restoration Project in providing 100 free trees as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative.

Partnerships for Parks 2015 Conference

Partnerships for Parks 2015 Conference


Saturday, April 11, 2015

9:30 am – 3:30 pm

NYU School of Law

40 Washington Square South

Complimentary entry but RSVP required


The Partnerships for Parks Conference provides community groups, park supporters, and open-space advocates an opportunity to unite and learn how local park stewards strengthen neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in New York City. We are excited to share a day with park enthusiasts from all five boroughs and to share best practices, tools, and resources we have honed over our 20 years of successfully supporting community partners and transforming communities.

Our conference workshops will include:

  • Partners for Park Groups: Organizations to Know 
  • Getting Green $ for Your Green Space 
  • Best Practices from Partnerships for Parks 
  • Parks as a Catalyst for Community Change 
  • Volunteer to Lead: Planning Successful Volunteer Projects in Your Park 
  • Greening NYC: Street Tree Care Tips and Citywide Resources 

Some featured speakers will include NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP and NYC Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Parks & Recreation Mark D. Levine along with representatives from leading nonprofits and advocacy groups.

Following your registration and in advance of the conference, check our website for more information on speakers and workshops.

We hope you can join us!


Register Now

Tree giveaway registration is now open! Yes, a FREE tree!

It’s time! It’s time to register online for a free tree. You have two weeks to reserve a free tree online here.



Friends of Brook Park in collaboration with Per Scholas is excited to announce our first Tree Giveaway at Brook Park.

Choose one of four tree varieties: Serviceberry, River Birch, Eastern Redbud, or Chokecherry.

Your free tree will be available at Brook Park on Sunday April 19th. You’ll have a whole hour at the beginning of the event to pick it up. If registration is full or you arrive after the first hour, a limited quantity of trees will also be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the event.


 When: Sunday, April 19th 2015 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
 Where: Brook Park at East 141st Street and Brook Avenue


Why a free tree? Our boroughs need them, especially the Bronx.


Is this tree REALLY “free”?  Yes! We have the New York Restoration Project to thank. It’s through the MillionTreesNYC initiative.


Please note that to pick up a free tree, you must agree to the Tree Requirements:

  • To plant in one of the five boroughs.
  • To keep trees properly watered and maintained.
  • NOT to plant your tree along streets, in city parks, in containers, terraces, balconies or on roofs.
Your free tree must be planted in one of the five boroughs but it is our goal that the majority of these trees will be planted right here in the South Bronx where they’re needed most, where the highest asthma rates and the least greenery exist. Trees reduce pollution, provide shade on hot summer days, provide habitat for wildlife like songbirds, and they cheer up our concrete jungle. 
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smallThis two hour Tree Giveaway event immediately follows the South Bronx Unite annual bike tour. It’s free too. Join us!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Sculpture of Food Foraging Tour 4-11-15

The Bronx River Art Center Presents:
The Sculpture of Food
Opening reception Friday, March 20th, 6-9pm, at 305 East 140th Street, Bronx, NY.
On view from March 20th to April 11th, the second of exhibition series
Food Systems, Surroundings & Sensibilities.
Saturday, April 11th Foraging Tour by SPURSE
The Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is pleased to announce The Sculpture of Food, the
second in a two-year series of ten exhibitions that will run through 2016, entitled Food
Systems, Surroundings & Sensibilities. The exhibition will open with a reception on Friday
March 20th from 6 to 9pm at BRAC’s temporary gallery space in Mott Haven, the Bronx.
If sculpture can explore the physical, tactile implications of material and all of the cultural
significance that it brings with it, then The Sculpture of Food achieves this transference of
meaning through that which we eat. In the works on display, food is both a building block
for an art object and an idea to be conveyed. The materials chosen by each artist to
construct the works, whether they be stone, fur, paper or candy, create significance that
could contradict or add to the cultural weight that belongs to an everyday package of candy
or a bloody side of beef.
Curated by Karine Duteil, The Sculpture of Food is part of BRAC’s larger curatorial effort to
draw attention to food as a creative medium and muse, indicator of culture, and pressing
social and political issue, most importantly specific to the Bronx.

More about the exhibitions series:
This exhibition series is designed to shine light on the fact that although The Bronx is at the heart of New York
City’s food system (the Bronx Terminal Produce Market supplies fruits and vegetables to supermarkets and
restaurants across the city, feeding millions of its inhabitants). Ironically, many parts of the borough are
identified as “food deserts.” This paradox engenders questions that our project will seek to answer: How are
Bronx residents affected by available food choices? What are the challenges for a 21s t- century city to feed all of
its population? How are ideas of sustainability, livability and healthy environments being explored –and how
should they be implemented for the future of our community? What roles can artists, community organizations
and local activists play within these scenarios? The conceptual framework of Food: Systems, Surroundings &
Sensibilities addresses these perspectives in order to identify inspiring and achievable solutions through the
cross-fertilization of artists with our community’s diverse groups of inhabitants and within its specific and
distinctive landscape.
About the Bronx River Art Center:
Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is a culturally diverse, multi-arts, non-profit organization that provides a forum
for community, artists, and youth to transform creativity into vision. Our Education, Exhibitions, and Presenting
Programs cultivate leadership in an urban environment and stewardship of our natural resource, the Bronx
River. For more information visit
This project is supported in part with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; The New York
City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and The New York State Council on the Arts with
the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and The New York State Legislature. Related education and public programs
are supported, in part, by Con Edison, the 42nd Street Development Corporation, and the generosity of our patrons.
The Bronx River Art Center expresses its appreciation for the support of The City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bronx
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilmember Ritchie Torres, and members of the Council’s Bronx Delegation.
Special thanks to our local partners:
The Diego de la Vega Coffee Co-op, a project that offers organic coffee sourced locally in Chiapas, Mexico from
Zapatista autonomous farms. Our goal is to connect social movements and geographical regions: Chiapas and New York
City, with the goal of creating a horizontal financial flow between social movements.
Conti’s Pastry Shoppe
786 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462
Friends of Brook Park is a leading community-based environmental organization in the South Bronx. We
engage youth and adults in organic gardening, Community Supported Agriculture and arts and indigenous
cultural events and activities that convey a deep respect for the Natural world. In addition we are strong
advocates for environmental justice, waterfront access and green space development.
Corbin Hill Food Project was founded by a group of Harlem-based community investors, 51 percent
of whom were Black or Latino, and 72 percent were women. Its goal is to connect upstate farmers
with the urban communities most in need of fresh produce. Its Farm Share program, in which
individuals or families buy “shares” of fruit and vegetable harvests, has locations in Harlem, Washington Heights,
Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The Farm Share allows participants to pay by the week or month, and receive a discount if
paying with SNAP (food stamp) benefits.”