The “LES Community Hero Award” Honors Bob Humber of M’Finda Kalunga Garden and Sara Roosevelt Park Coalition Founding Member

A celebratory evening opened by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Downtown Arts ED Ryan Gilliam (and founder of the LES  Hero Awards).


Honorees also included Charles Krezell of Lungs, beloved Ricky Leung (posthumously awarded – presented by Damaris Reyes of GOLES accepted by Samantha Leung Ricky’s wife), Essex Street Market Vendors, Monique Flores and of course our own Robert Humber!

And here…a little Bob history:


and the introduction to Bob – for more of his history (from K Webster):

Bob Humber: This is what a Hero looks like.

It will be hard to capture the love of community, the sweet smile and warm welcome, the extended hand and ready joke, the calm courage, the kindness and wisdom of Bob Humber. 

Bob’s inspiration, The M’Finda Kalunga Garden, is an oasis in the very tough Sara Roosevelt Park. Though the neighborhood continues to attract a higher income bracket, he fights for the people who were here long before it felt cool or safe to others.

But he welcomes everyone: rich and poor, all colors and languages, ages and genders.

He fought to get the drugs out of Sara Roosevelt Park in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He and other neighbors joined together to change everything. He risked his life on bike patrol through pimps and drug dealers with a goal to make the park safe for children. He started and taught leagues for youth. He still teaches young people about the history of this place and a sense of their own belonging here.

His decency, his firm and loving guidance still makes all the difference to how a life turns out. He has stayed and fought for a good community. And though he lost many battles and people, I believe he has won the day.

He has also won many awards: The Scott Give Back to Grow Urban Gardener of the Year, Citizens for NYC, etc. He is known around the world. He has the respect and friendship of several Park’s Commissioners as well as the men he provides with a coat and a conversation. He has his family and his neighbor’s love and respect. He built a real life here.

He is the single most known gardener because he is always here. His only requirement for you to be here is that you pitch in. Many of us gardeners and Park advocates are here today because he asked, “could you give me a hand with this?” We were hooked.

Despite the very real and harsh scourges of racism and class oppression, Bob has managed to stay kind and generous and forgiving.

He is also deft with words when an injustice happens. When our nursing home was taken from this community for condos, he said “I looked out for the children in this park for decades and I was hoping, when I could no longer give back, I would have a room in Rivington House overlooking my life’s work”.

…There are some days I am not sure we deserve him.

Many here call him “dad” because he helped raise them. He has taken to calling many of us ‘my favorite daughter” or “my favorite son” Truthfully, and he will admit this, it’s in part because while he always remembers “you” he doesn’t always remember your name. But I think the real reason is because in that moment – you are his favorite.

When my mother lived with us, while her mind bore the disintegration that Alzheimers disease brings, he was a beacon to her. He would laugh at her grumpiness and she delighted in his humor and attention. Thank you for that Bob.

It’s how he is. There is no such thing in Bob’s universe as an unimportant person or a human being who is beyond the reach of our consideration, care and thought. That’s why children love him – he treats them with respect and with liking.

Bob, I know your brother Ron and your friend Pete are smiling tonight (and probably cracking a joke or two about “your wives”).

I hope this award gives you some small sense of the pride and gratitude we have for you and all you do, but most of all for the friendships you have offered us.

Pops, you truly are the most beautiful flower in our garden.






Overdevelopment Forum with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYS Senator Liz Krueger and NYC CM Ben Kallos

The Hort and Students from Emma Lazarus High School Care for Plots in Southern End of SDR Park

Last week, the students from Emma Lazarus High School planted 100 perennials in the beds along Forsyth between Hester and Grand.

“We planted and revitalized five areas. A five-foot service berry bush was also planted. This winds down a busy year in Sara Roosevelt Park!”

Gorgeous – much thanks to all of the volunteers and to The Hort’s Pam Ito!



Learn About Raptors This Thursday June 14, 2018 at the BRC

NYC Parks Department’s Wildlife Unit:

A presentation with Katie Leung about the raptors (birds of prey) monitoring project.

Thursday, June 14 at 6:30pm — BRC Senior Services Center – 30 Delancey Street

(btwn Chrystie & Forsyth Streets)

Katie with Elizabeth our local ‘bird aficionado ‘ in SDR Park




Not a Raptor:

Coming Saturday June 23rd to Sara Roosevelt Park North End Stanton Area

And help make this park safer for everyone:

Roni-Sue’s Chocolates Rejoining the New Essex Street Market AND Staying on Forsyth Street (Whew)

From the Lo-Down


Roni-Sue’s Chocolates was one of the first businesses to take a chance on the Essex Street Market when it was on the upswing a decade ago. She started the candy store from scratch in 2007, making chocolate from a tiny stall in the back of the market. Owner Rhonda Kave had opened a larger shop and production facility on Forsyth Street in 2013….Kave is returning to her roots, while keeping the main shop at 148 Forsyth open.”

Families Belong Together

Oval Turf Field at Canal and Hester to Get a Make-Over!

Today from Parks Department:

“Good News: Starting Thursday, Parks staff will be replacing the synthetic turf field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park between Hester and Canal Streets.  This project is being paid for with Parks’ existing resources.  We expect to complete this work by the end of the month, when we should be able to open a brand new field to the community.”

We thank Commissioner Castro and his Manhattan team for returning the Oval at Hester/Canal field back to use for the nearby schools and for the public.


Park’s workers fixed the field on Grand/Broome in record time with less cost! .



Chickens and Flowers M’Finda Kalunga Garden




The Greenhouses That Grow City Flowers

From the NY Times:

“Three greenhouses are responsible for the infinite colorful blooms in parks across the city: Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island, Forest Park Greenhouse in Queens and Citywide Nursery in the Bronx, which we explored on a recent rainy morning….”

“…The Queens greenhouse, he added, specializes in tropical plants..

…Bronx site…a tree nursery…The Bronx nursery grows some 200,000 plants each year to be distributed to public parks citywide…”

Our gardens lean towards the indigenous plantings from the Greenbelt Native Plant Center in Staten Island.