Defending Martha’s Garden

To the Editor:

In “Martha’s Harlem Garden: Not That Great,” [Aug. 20], Nancy Butkus takes issue with the design of the community garden at the George Washington Carver Residences in East Harlem, sponsored by the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Foundation. Ms. Butkus’ critique was unfair.

This garden, like all the community gardens that Council on the Environment’s Open Space Greening Program works with, was designed in collaboration with the council, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and most importantly, the community members who live in the residences and use the site. It is through a collaborative process that we ensure that the design meets the needs and desires of residents and surrounding community. And while this may disappoint Ms. Butkus’ particular aesthetic, it serves a much more important purpose.

It is entirely because of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Foundation’s generous funding, and through the physical labor of the many volunteer employees from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and from the gardeners, that a bleak and unused area has been transformed into a place for residents, members of the community and people visiting Mount Sinai Hospital to relax and enjoy.

Martha Stewart deserves congratulations and praise for reviving this site and for her ongoing commitment to improving New York City. Unlike Ms. Butkus, we have not been “let down,” but rather, lifted up!

Marcel Van Ooyen
Executive Director
Council on the Environment
Manhattan