Monday, November 30, 2009

Williamsburg Florist Honored For Green Entrepreneurship

While growing up in West Virginia, Kimberly Sevilla (pictured at left with her daughter Lavender) frequently noticed non-natural gardening practices: plants lined up in rows, and the use of Miracle-Gro products, to name a few.

“Americans were never really taught how to garden and how to compost and use the world around them,” said Sevilla, who cultivated a passion for gardening as she traveled the world to study the techniques of other cultures, reading historical books on the subject.

Sevilla has always gardened for herself — she has a garden in upstate New York and one at her home in Williamsburg — but didn’t make it part of her profession until just over a year ago, when she opened Rose Red & Lavender, a full service florist in Williamsburg.

Rose Red & Lavender isn’t just a place to buy cut flowers. Sevilla offers classes in urban gardening to the community through the store. “We’re teaching people how to repurpose and reuse things that they may have already to grow [gardens].”

She showed children how to plant a variety of seeds — herbs and vegetables — in a five-gallon bucket to create a “meal in a bucket” and also teaches students at her classes to create planters out of old tires. “This was popular in the ’60s,” she said. “We’re trying to revive that.”

Sevilla started a campaign to distribute seed balls, which are balls of clay that have flower seeds in them that don’t need to be planted in the soil. “It’s a technique used by Native Americans,” she said, and the flowers can sprout anywhere, namely the number of vacant lots in Williamsburg.

During the summertime, Sevilla sources her flowers from local farms. She grows the lavender she sells at the shop on property in West Virginia. She composts all the waste from the flowers and recycles everything she can.

It is this commitment to educating the community and making Williamsburg a greener place that won Sevilla an award for green entrepreneurship by the Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network, an organization dedicated to small business development in New York City’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Entrepreneurs were selected for this award for their efforts to go beyond just recycling in their green businesses.

Sevilla wants the award to help her spread eco-awareness. “I hope that people will seek us out for advice,” she said. “Everybody wants to be green — I don’t think they necessarily know how to do it.

“People come to me and say, ‘I don’t have a yard.’ Well, you don’t need a yard,” Sevilla continued. “We could be growing food on the roofs, there’s so much wasted space on the roofs ... you have a wall, put hooks on your wall, use window boxes.

“There are a lot of things around us that we can use.”

For hours and information about Rose Red & Lavender’s products and services, visit For information about BOC, visit

Photo above by Amy Wise. Little Lavender came before the shop.

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Mayor Bloomberg Appoints Brooklynite Caswell Holloway to Head Department of Environmental Protection

The Eagle received this press release:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Caswell F. Holloway — who lives in Brooklyn Heights — as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Holloway currently serves as Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler and as Special Advisor to Mayor Bloomberg.

Holloway took a leading role in the writing and implementation of the Administration’s report on the health impacts of September 11 and led negotiations on 9/11 health legislation that has been introduced in both houses of Congress. He also played a lead role in developing the City’s comprehensive cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal and in the passage and implementation of the City’s new Solid Waste Management Plan.

Holloway will replace Acting Commissioner Steven Lawitts, who has served since the departure of Commissioner Emily Lloyd last October. Holloway will begin work at the Department of Environmental Protection in January.

“Since he came to City Hall, Cas has worked a couple of desks away from me and I have watched him take on some of the toughest assignments and deliver solutions, from 9/11 health to the Gowanus Cleanup to reforming demolition procedures in the wake of the tragic 130 Liberty Street fire,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I’ve seen him work closely with senior managers at a range of City agencies on matters large and small, with a singular focus on results. Under Cas’s leadership, we’re going to complete vital infrastructure projects like the Third Water Tunnel, improve security of our city’s 2,000-square-mile watershed, and move forward with DEP’s ten-year, $13 billion capital program. I want to thank Steve Lawitts for leading this agency during the transition period, and I know Cas will build on his good work.”

“New York City has the best drinking water in the nation, and the waterways that surround us have always been a key to the City’s prosperity,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Mayor Bloomberg has led the way in making the investments necessary to prepare our water and sewer infrastructure for the next century, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with the talented and dedicated team at DEP to continue that effort, and to press forward aggressively to open as much of our waterfront as possible to renewed investment and recreation.”

Commissioner Holloway has started key initiatives like the new citywide public recycling program and worked with the Fire Department to implement new inspection protocols and safety measures for first responders on construction sites. Over the last year, he led the negotiations that resulted in the Project Labor Agreements announced last week, which will allow the City to save money on and invest more in major infrastructure projects. The agreements include provisions that will ensure better access to good construction jobs for Minority and Women-owned small-business enterprises.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s more than 6,000-person staff is responsible for the City’s air and water quality, for the safety and operation of a water supply system that serves more than 8.5 million people daily, for collecting and processing wastewater, and for enforcing compliance in the handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

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