Rochester residents are joining Project Scion so they can rake, sweep and blow away old vacant lots in place of green space.
In its first year, the group took on a vacant lot in the JOSANA neighborhood at the corner of Child and Jay Streets. They named the space The Orchard.
"When we come here we can lay down on the benches and take a little nap," said 10-year-old Ronn Rivers.
Ronn and his 7-year-old brother Tre and many other JOSANA neighbors were part of bringing The Orchard to life. It's Project Scion's very first vacant lot overhaul. Three suburban business owners founded the group. Pietro Furgiuele of Waterford Tilling and Sharon Coates and Bruce Zaretsky of Zaretsky and Associates wanted to use their landscaping and design talents to make Rochester better. Their goal - transform one vacant city lot each year.
"We look at the inner city of Rochester as sort of the heart of our community," Coates said. "With the recession we really see that the heart of our community or parts of it are really suffering."
Neighbors like Omar Akaram say drug dealers and trouble makers are already avoiding the orchard.
"It's reduced because there are more people out here," Akaram said. "So those drug dealers don't want to hang out when they see all those people from the city coming in and out."
"Before it was like mad people up here," JOSANA Neighbor Monique Bunton said. "It was crowded and dangerous and now it's like relaxing and it's comfortable. I like it. I like it."
There's still more work to do. Just across the street from the orchard is this vacant lot where things like a dirty diaper, fast food waste and an old tire can be found. The hope is Project Scion will convince the neighborhood to clean up areas like these. Ronn and Tre are already guarding their work and keeping other areas clean. The hope is The Orchard and other lots will become lasting urban oasis.
Project Scion is already looking for their next vacant lot to transform for more information just visit the groups Web site.