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On a City Sidewalk, Art That Changes with the Season

On a Boerum Hill street corner, the Hop Stop art project.

An art project grows in Brooklyn, literally.

On the corner of Bergen and Smith streets, right next to pizza, is an L-shaped garden plot filled with herbs and hops growing up a custom-designed lattice-like structure. The Bushwick based artist Andrew Casner planted the garden in the raised bed, which is approximately two feet off of the ground and is surrounded by a stone bench.

The garden is an art project as much as it is a green space to enjoy in the middle of the city. For Casner, it's a place for anyone to sit down and enjoy a bit of nature.

"It's a combination of a community garden and a tree pit," he said. "But a community garden is locked away and a tree pit's not cared for."

Part of the Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, and sponsored by the Boerum Hill Association, the "Hop Stop" project is the second one that has found a home here. Last summer, the artist Christina Kelly planted corn in the plot as part of her project, Maize Field.

Casner says the hops could grow as high as 30 feet, and the changing nature of the scene is what is most inspiring for him.

"It's a living sculpture," he said.

The plantings are cared for by Casner and another artist, Jesse Sachs, and is maintained by the community minded folks at , the restaurant and local beer favorite just up Bergen Street.

"We make sure it gets watered," said owner Dave Liatti, adding that a possible "special brew" using the flowers and buds from the Hop Stop was a definite possibility.

Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association, says the creative crossover is appealing.

"It's a series of planting projects, but it's really artwork," he said.

The garden is appreciated by those who come into contact with it too. On a recent sunny day, Dave Castaldo enjoyed a slice of pizza while sitting beside it.

"It is definitely really nice to sit next to something green," said Castaldo, a Fort Greene resident who interns at .

Another local said the plot's good condition was a testament to the neighborhood.

"I'm impressed people have been kind to it," said Cristin Cagnazzi, who lives nearby. "It really says something about the community."

Indeed, no one has defaced the structure, though some of the plants have gone missing, said Kolins.

But while the artsiness of the project may have been lost on some, the practical uses are certainly a selling point.

"It was a comfortable place to sit and have a coffee one night," said Bed-Stuy resident Sarah Shoff. "The seating is really nice."

"And anytime you have a little something growing, it's better than nothing," she added.

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