When COVID-19 cases reached their peak in 2020, the Bronx had the highest per-case fatality rate in the city. In this historically disenfranchised borough, BIPOC residents have long experienced chronic health conditions like asthma and diabetes at higher rates than the rest of NYC. In addition to higher mortality rates and the worsening of chronic health conditions that are the effect of environmental racism, the pandemic also led to the shutdown of many community spaces that neighbors relied on to garden, gather, and create. As a way to address some of these issues, in April 2021 La Morada sous-chef Carolina Saavedra offered to steward a green space that had remained closed throughout 2020 due to the pandemic. In the spring of 2021, Carolina convened a group of community members, organizers and volunteers to rehabilitate this green space.
In the process of rehabilitating the garden, new members and volunteers learned more about the history of this green space, originally established and named Cherry Tree Garden by a group of immigrant artists, activists, and squatters in the late 1980s.
The Bruckner/Mott-Haven Community Garden re-opened officially in the summer of 2021. The garden has 12 individual beds and a large communal farm, built from scratch with new transplants and new soil.
Since its reopening, community members, garden stewards and volunteers have been using this green space to gather and share in community, to nourish the body and soul, and to grow and harvest fresh vegetables and medicinal herbs.