Community Victory for Nature
Fort Hill Park is a surprising oasis of natural beauty, a sanctuary for many native species of plants and flowers, located in Staten Island. It was first considered for park status in 1923, but the measure failed. Seventy five years later, in 1998, a neighborhood group formed to save this rare parcel of land from impending development. The effort paid off in 2003, when the land was purchased and dedicated by NYC Parks as a passive park. Since that incredible day, Fort Hill Park proudly stands as a community victory for nature!
Just a Walk from the Ferry
The goal for Fort Hill Park has always been to preserve and enhance the unique character of this historic wooded hillside area. Since the world wide pandemic, the objective has evolved into something more, to both restore the park to a healthier ecosystem by removing harmful invasive plants, replacing them with native species that support wild birds, insects, reptiles and mammals and to create a space that provides beauty for park visitors. In the summer of 2020, Fort Hill Park won a $500.00 City Parks Foundation Grant to begin a butterfly garden in the top corner of the park. Visionary Parks Horticulture Manager, Yvette Castro, initiated the idea. Volunteers planted over 300 tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs as well as many wildflower seeds and roots. The following spring, the same grant funded an Earth Day event, and Greenbelt Native Plant Center, a division of NYC Parks, donated almost 100 native plants!
Start By Making Space
As many people who tend a piece of land know, planting is the easiest part of gardening. Before any planting, our volunteers must remove invasive plants to make space. English Ivy and Norway Maples are the top two such plants that we are gradually eliminating from the park. More information about native and invasive plants can be found on the PLANT MAP page.
Fort Hill Park is thriving from community participation, and growing awareness about the importance of native plants and healthy forests for human life. Two annual events (one in the spring and one in the fall) have attracted and trained 92 wonderful volunteers, including some who are horticultural experts and some who had never gardened in their lives! Together we have produced a noticeable transformation of Fort Hill Park from what one early visitor described as a “tree graveyard” to a thriving colorful place that attracts pollinators, birds and visitors. These days, passers by actually stop to take pictures of Fort Hill Park! This means people with no knowledge of our work have begun to see beauty worth capturing – and remembering – in photographs.
Community effort saved this beautiful, wooded parcel in the densest part of Staten Island – as NYC parkland! As we draw people together to improve the health of the park, our passion for nature and knowledge is shared with others. From our events, we have enjoyed repeat volunteers, and grown our core group of enthusiastic supporters. We hope this website will broadcast our enthusiasm for our beloved park and planting events. We are very proud of what we have accomplished and intend to keep right on planting! Click here to contact us!