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Hispanic Heritage Month: Bridgeport man from Colombia uses his roots in farming to bring nature to community

A Bridgeport man is using his roots in farming to share his love of nature with the community.

News 12 Staff

Oct 5, 2021, 2:35 AM

Updated 993 days ago


A Bridgeport man is using his roots in farming to share his love of nature with the community.
Diego Celis, originally from Colombia, has been in Bridgeport for 20 years. He says his neighborhood in Seaside Village was like a gateway to reconnecting to his history as someone who grew up on a farm.
“Seaside Village is like a little English village that was taken out of a postcard,” he says. “In a way, like a mini botanical garden of curiosities.”
Celis started landscape design at the New York Botanical Garden before he joined Yale University to volunteer in the local community.
Celis says when hurricanes Irene and Sandy hit the area, they were a game changer that impacted the way he saw gardening.
“This place looked like a disaster after the hurricanes,” he says. “We had a rain garden project that we had started a year prior to the hurricanes, where they just created all these pools where the water filters back into the soil.”
Celis also discovered a fragrant rose during a walk on the beach that turned out to be a unique flower.
“When I started at the Botanical Garden, and the curator asked me to bring it, he said 'Yes, this is a different mutation,' and he named it ‘Seaside Joy,’” he says.
Celis says having a community garden kind of brings the best in people.
“My involvement in the community is not just making it look pretty, but also finding ways to help the South End be more resilient to oncoming storms, because every year there's more and more,” he says.
Along with his discovery of "Seaside Joy," the New York Botanical Garden has named another rose after him. Celis keeps a historic account of all the flowers in Seaside Village.

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