'Bronx Flower Girl' beautifies community one flower at a time

Kemberly Richardson Image
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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Jaleesa Franco, 29, also known as 'The Flower Girl,' has transformed her Castle Hill neighborhood in the Bronx one daffodil and tulip at a time. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

CASTLE HILL, The Bronx (WABC) -- A young woman in the Bronx, known as "The Flower Girl," has turned her passion for flowers into transforming her community one daffodil and tulip at a time.

There are few things in life that make Jaleesa Franco happier than gardening -- specifically flowers.

But her world was temporarily uprooted during the pandemic when she lost her job at a landscaping company.

"Everybody was just doing nothing, it was a whole bunch of nothing, and I wanted to do something and I want to be impactful," Franco said.

Then she had an idea that turned into a labor of love, which she documented and got a shout outs from The Bronx Times.

"I thought I was like, let me plant all over Castle Hill," Franco said. "That became my new landscaping job."

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The 29-year-old reached out to The Daffodil Project, which gives away free bulbs to be planted in public spaces. Franco got 1,000.

Last fall, she went to work along Castle Hill Avenue, and in the spring, she was beaming.

"I felt so proud of myself," Franco said. "I was like, wow, I've lived here for 30 years, and we've never had not one one little flower, and it was so nice to see everything blooming."

Folks in the area were flabbergasted. With help from a neighbor, next up will be tulips. To date, Franco has planted more than 5,000 flowers.

"Everybody was like, 'Are you getting paid for that?'" she said. "I was like, 'No.' You guys aren't used to nice things for free, that's what it is. I was like, I just want to do it."

Franco's next project will be planting sunflowers along the same stretch later this month.

Things are also blossoming for Franco on the job front. She accepted a position, fittingly, with the parks department.

"I'm just happy to get my foot in the door of a place I want to be," Franco said. "I definitely know I could thrive there."

Back at home, she is looking for volunteers to help get the sunflowers in the ground, right around her birthday on July 18.

You can find her on TikTok under the username: TheBronxHippie.

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