Laura Braddock graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and moved to New York City in the 1980’s. In stead of pursuing the more traditional corporate career path, Ms. Braddock decided to enter the volunteer sector and use the skills she acquired at Vassar to help maintain open green spaces in New York City. She has volunteered to help various groups, including the Green Guerillas, and has won an award for her work from the Manhattan Borough President.
In 2001, Ms. Braddock worked to mediate a Uniform Land Use Review Process conflict between a developer and the oldest community garden in New York City. Her participation in this process helped preserve the garden.
Ms. Braddock has been an active volunteer at the Liz Christy Bowery Houston Garden for more than 12 years. She spends an average of 20 hours per week tending the plots in the garden and is responsible for the turtle and fish pond, which is the most visited site in the garden. She shows visitors and school groups the pond and teaches them about the ecology of this freshwater oasis in the heart of the east village. She developed a guide to the turtles containing photographs of the nine turtles currently in residence. She has learned a great deal about turtle medical problems and even assisted one of the female turtles in laying her eggs.
Ms. Braddock is also a volunteer “Citizen Street Tree Pruner,” helping to keep local trees healthy. To help other gardeners and other gardens, she is a member of the “trust for Public Lands” Garden Leadership Group providing technical assistance to others.
In addition, Ms. Braddock has been active in other aspects of community gardening on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which has a large immigrant population. She worked to design a web page that tells about community gardening and worked to ensure that the paths in the garden are wide enough to allow people in wheelchairs access through the garden. She also did the research and installed solar powered lights in a community garden to save energy costs and allow the garden to stay open at night. These lights were installed in early August 2003 and providing the only lights to be seen in the area during the Blackout of 2003.