PATERSON, NJ - A vision to turn a “seedy” lot in the heart of Paterson’s 4th Ward into a place where seeds can grow continues to produce a plentiful bounty and supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for area residents.

“Senior citizens from right up the block can now come here and get healthy food for their tables,” Councilwoman Ruby Cotton said, adding that the Tuesday ribbon cutting to mark the completed construction of a greenhouse on the once litter strewn lot, was a nod to positivity.

Throughout the speeches given by various officials, including also Mayor Andre Sayegh and Councilman Luis Velez, the smile never left Deacon Willie Davis’s face. The soft-spoken man with an obviously oversized heart and green thumb left no doubt that what has been achieved over the years in the space, long a home to drugs and guns, hopelessness and despair, was for the community, not his own sense of accomplishment.

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Asked how the addition of the greenhouse, made possible largely through support of the United Way of Passaic County, would support efforts to make the space a green oasis in an otherwise tough part of the city Davis barely hid his excitement in saying that now growing can take place “all year long.”

“There is a great future for Paterson,” Davis said, referring to the space as a “beacon for our young people.”

“Let’s teach and show them” that there is a better way than drugs and violence he implored.

“Who would’ve thought we’d have a greenhouse at the corner of 12th Avenue and Rosa Parks,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said. “We are here celebrating the fruit of (Davis’) labor, proving that we can take back our community, and that positive things are possible in Paterson.”

For his part, Velez shared his hope that events like Tuesday’s, and spots like the community garden, would become more commonplace. “Let’s send a message that our city is moving forward.

Representatives from the Habitat for Humanity who helped with the construction and High End Electric, including founder Nacho Jimenez, who is providing the electricity to power the greenhouse for free, were also on hand.

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