May 16, 2008 - New York, NY - Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing and revitalizing parks, community gardens and public spaces in New York City, today announces the debut of The Toyota Children's Learning Garden in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood. The garden, which was designed by renowned landscape architect and New Yorker Michael Van Valkenburgh and generously funded by Toyota, has been designed with the neighborhood children in mind. Located on East 11th Street (on the corner of Avenue B), in a neighborhood where only 10% of the area has been preserved as outdoor space, it is an ideal spot within close proximity to more than 50 public, private, and parochial elementary and secondary schools.
NYRP and Toyota commissioned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to create this unique 1,600-square-foot space for the surrounding neighborhood and its residents. "I live in the Village so it's very important to me personally to be involved in a public project here," says Valkenburgh whose firm MVVA is well known for their work on the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Hudson River Park among other projects.
"Opening this garden brings green space to a community that is greatly deprived of it," said Drew Becher, Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project. "There are nearly 22,000 children under the age of 18 in this neighborhood who deserve and will benefit from an open green place to learn and enjoy hours experiencing nature."
As part of the new design The Toyota Children's Learning Garden now features pathways and seating areas for outdoor classes; trees, shrubs, and flowers; a tool shed, water storage and composting facilities. The garden will provide K-8 schoolchildren with hands-on, interdisciplinary programs based on a Garden Science curriculum developed by NYRP that the organization also uses successfully in its Riley Levin Children's Garden at Swindler Cove Park in Upper Manhattan.
"Toyota is very excited to expand our support of NYRP and is fully committed to the development and maintenance of this community garden," says Patricia Pineda, Group Vice President, Philanthropy at Toyota Motor North America.
As a result of Toyota's contributions, NYRP can create an endowment to support school and community programs, garden maintenance, and ensure that the Toyota Children's Learning Garden remains an exceptional outdoor learning facility for years to come.
About New York Restoration Project
Founded by Bette Midler, New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reclaiming and restoring parks, community gardens and open spaces in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout New York City's five boroughs. In partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, NYRP launched MillionTreesNYC in 2007 – a public-private partnership to plant and care for one million new trees throughout the City by 2017.
Since its founding in 1995, NYRP has accomplished dramatic results by investing in New York City's open spaces and diverse, underserved communities. NYRP staff and core of volunteers have planted over 100,000 trees and shrubs to support the restoration of New York City's parks and public spaces; removed more than 925 tons of garbage and debris from project sites; saved 114 community gardens from commercial development; transformed an illegal dumping ground into the five-acre Swindler Cove Park and Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse; and continues to serve New York City's families and at-risk youth through environmental education programs and events. For more information on NYRP, visit www.nyrp.org