The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) is thrilled to announce that Lucia Maestro will join the nonprofit’s growing staff as inaugural Director of Horticulture and Garden Education of the Historic Jay Gardens. She will begin on March 1, 2022.
As Hort Director, Lucia will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance, establishment, and review of the newly revitalized Jay Gardens. She will also create and organize unique horticultural programs related to the cultural and natural significance of the site. We’re excited about her workshop ideas for visitors and our volunteers will enjoy working with her too!
Already, in their first year of operation, the Historic Jay Gardens have become a gathering place for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. Last season they were the setting for a busy schedule of programs, including a workshop with Jan Doornbosch of International Bulb Company about the history and anatomy of tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs; an outdoor performance of JHC’s acclaimed play “Striving for Freedom” for 60 middle-school students; and a lively holiday a cappella concert with Columbia’s Metrotones and Princeton’s Tigertones.
Maestro’s appointment promises to further build on these offerings. Her background is as a horticulturist, landscape designer, and environmental consultant. An avid gardener, she became a community advocate after she started volunteering in several community and school gardens in the Bronx with the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in 2008.
She currently combines her work as an Adjunct Professor at Manhattanville College with other side projects where she develops educational activities and programs with a strong focus on environment, social justice, food security, gardening, and sustainability. She coordinates their community garden and greenhouse, and works alongside colleagues, students and volunteers while sharing her passion for gardening and sustainable practices. She also serves as committee member for Earth Day week at Manhattanville and as their Audubon Society Campus Ambassador.
Most recently she joined the NYBG Children’s Educational Program as an Educator, and developed the Harrison Public Library children’s garden programming, both in 2021. She lives in Purchase with her husband and two children, who all enjoy spending time outdoors and harvesting fresh and organic seasonal fruits and veggies from the community garden nearby.
The Historic Jay Gardens are part of a larger 23-acre park operated by JHC. The Jay Estate is the childhood home of American Founding Father, jurist, anti-slavery advocate, and peacemaker John Jay and is a National Historic Landmark site. It is also a significant site on the African American Heritage Trail and was the home of enslaved and freed women, men, and their families, whose narratives are also expressed in the landscape. Today the property, which once belonged to the Munsee Lenape and is considered an active and significant archaeological site, has three owners: JHC, New York State Parks and Westchester County Parks, who work together collaboratively. With the direction of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), Phase I of a design to reimagine and rehabilitate almost three acres of formal and functional gardens was first begun in June 2020, and construction will be completed by Spring 2022. The resulting garden rooms will activate new inclusive and accessible public programs and experiences at JHC and facilitate its growth as a vibrant educational campus.