THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bette Midler Does the Bronx and a Garden Grows!

Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project is at it again.
The non-profit, which works to revitalize parks and public spaces
throughout New York City, built a community garden in one of New York's
toughest neighborhoods, in the Bronx.

(To see the video of Bette Midler opening NYRP's Target Bronx
Community Garden on October 6, Walletpop.com has the exclusive video.)

"When we first came here [in 1995] it was nothing but rock and rubble,"
says Midler. She convinced Target to put up a "nice chunk of change" to
combine two public gardens -- (one is the site of a tragic 2007
fire) -- into a luscious community space with an outdoor kitchen, dining
areas, and rows of community gardening plots for locals to grow their
own fruits and vegetables to take home.

The
garden, which looks like something out of Vanity Fair, will also host
cooking demonstrations, gardener workshops, summer concerts and
community movie nights.

Designer and television host Sean Conway, author of the simply fabulous Cultivating Life: 125 Projects for Backyard Living,
created the gardens by consulting locals on their needs and wishes.
Most of the plots of land will go to school children at neighboring
P.S. 73 to learn about gardening.

Barrett Robinson, NYRP's Vice President of Horticulture and
Construction, helped lead the project and project manager Jared Vazales
grew many of the plants on his roof before transporting them to their
permanent home.

This is NYRP's third garden in the last three years. The
Target Community Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn opened in 2007
and the Target East Harlem Community Garden in October 2008, both
designed by Conway. Target also established a fund to help maintain the
gardens.

Midler is a famous eco-warrior who helped establish
green jobs in New York with the help of $2 million in stimulus money.
This funding provided 26 people with full-time jobs, according to NYRP
executive director Drew Becher. The organization also celebrated the
planting of the 250,000th tree in its quest to plant one million in New
York in ten years. They are 50,000 trees ahead of schedule.

"I
meant a million trees. It was just a pipe dream at first," says Midler.
"Maybe I had too much to drink at one of those galas...We have ten
years to plant a million and it looks like we're going to make it."

As
for the Divine Miss M's advice to young eco-warriors on the frustration
that we're not doing enough to combat global warming, she says, to maintain stamina, "You
have to nuture yourself." And what better place to do that, she smiles,
then in a garden.