Community Gardeners Gear Up for a Fight
New York City gardeners are gearing up for a fight. On Wed., Aug. 4, the New York City Community Garden Coalition organized a rally and press conference at City Hall to protest proposed rules governing community gardens. If approved, the rules will replace an expiring 10-year agreement that has provided community gardens with basic protections against developers. The new rules — proposed by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development — dilute the safeguards in the original 2002 agreement. For example, the new rules drop a provision that would allow gardens to be sold at a nominal purchase price to the parks department or not-for-profit land trusts for preservation.
“NYCCGC is firmly in opposition to these proposed rules because they threaten all gardens on city property with development and do not offer the same protections as the 2002 Community Gardens Agreement,” the group writes on its website.
NYCCGC is rallying city gardeners and expects a large turnout of supporters at a public hearing to be held on Tues., Aug. 10, at Chelsea Recreation Center in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, a corps of volunteers is working hard to support gardens in another way: they are trying to assess how much food is produced in the city’s roughly 500 gardens as part of a project dubbed “Farming Concrete.” The volunteers are looking to gather as much quantitative information as they can – how many pounds of food on how many square feet of land, serving how many people. They also want to capture its worth in dollars and the amount of greenhouse gases diverted from the atmosphere.
Farming Concrete notes on its website that quantifying the amount of food grown would “enhance the perceived value and legitimacy of community gardens as a public land use in New York City.”
It’s the kind of information that would help gardeners strengthen their case at Tuesday’s public hearing. Hopefully Farming Concrete will be able to share some preliminary numbers by then.