Volume 76, Number 47 | April 18 - 24, 2007

St. Luke gardeners hope benefit for anniversary comes up roses

By Brooke Edwards

The community garden at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields is holding a benefit on Sat., April 21, to celebrate 50 years as a sanctuary for West Villagers.

The anniversary of the garden, which is on the corner of Barrow and Hudson Sts., almost slipped by undetected, according to Richard Bentley, who has worked in the green oasis almost daily for 17 years. He said one of the other volunteer gardeners discovered the anniversary by chance, when she noticed a photograph of the dedication ceremony dated 1956 hanging in the back of the church.

Saturday’s garden party will take place rain or shine from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the garden. It will include walking tours, covering the history of the half-century-old garden and the nearly 90-year-old church. There will be recital music, croquet and a silent auction, with work by local artists and gift certificates for restaurants, clothing stores, massages and gyms. There will also be food provided by a number of West Village restaurants, including Monster Sushi and Jarnack.

Tickets for the benefit are $50, with children 16 and under free, and can be purchased online through Stlukeinthefields.org, by phone at 212-924-0562 or in person the day of the event.

“The benefit is the kickoff for a multiyear rejuvenation plan for the garden,” said Robert McGraw, who is helping plan the event.

McGraw said benefit proceeds would go toward new garden plantings, as well as installing an irrigation system, benches and a more historic-looking cast-iron fence along Barrow St., to replace the chain-link fence that is there now.

Though St. Luke’s parish is cutting back its budget and operating expenses this year and depending more on donations, McGraw says the cutbacks won’t directly affect the garden’s funding.

“The garden has always relied on community support,” he said. It is maintained entirely by volunteers from the church parish.

In 2000, the garden was honored with a Village Award by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. And in 2003, it was featured by House and Garden magazine in its “Best of New York” feature, in the same company as the New York Botanical Garden.

The garden is open to the community seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to sunset, year-round.

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