Community gardens create a space that invites conversation, nourishment and connection. There are approximately 500 community gardens in New York City, many of which are in low-income areas. In a city as large as New York, this feeling of community is highly craved and increasingly sought out. The legislation protecting these gardens from development, the 2002 Memorandum of Agreement, is set to expire in September. As such, new rules are being proposed by the Parks Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The future of these gardens is at stake, and the time to act is now.
I attended the New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) monthly meeting on July 15, held at Chenchita’s Garden in Harlem. Over 50 community garden members from across the five boroughs gathered to learn and discuss the details of the proposed rulemaking process. The NYCCGC has been directly involved in drafting the proposed rules to ensure the voice of New York City community gardeners is being heard. In the current draft legislation there is no specific protection for the gardens against development, a major concern.
Karen Washington, President of the NYCCGC, poignantly emphasized the need to “secure community gardens as a permanent part of the landscape of New York City.”
What can concerned New Yorkers do? The most effective step is to make your voice heard at the public hearing on the proposed rules. It will be held on Tuesday August 10th at 11:00am at the Chelsea Recreation Center (430 West 25th St). After this time, the Parks Dept and the HPD will review public comments. According to the NYCCGC, the final outcome of the legislation could take anywhere from six months to one year to be finalized and so it’s important to influence the rules as early as possible.
Ecocentric will be following this legislation throughout the process and will provide updates on a regular basis. Stay tuned!