Green Candidates Opposes Efforts by Bloomberg to Undercut NYC Community Gardens Protection


Howie Hawkins - Green for Governor
Media Release
www.howiehawkins.org - www.gpny.org

For Immediate Release: August 9, 2010
For More Information: Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019

 

Howie Hawkins and Gloria Mattera, the Green Party's 2010 statewide Gubernatorial ticket, said that they strongly oppose the efforts by the Bloomberg administration to gut the 2002 Community Gardens Agreement between the New York State Attorney General and the City. Green Party members will participate in the rally and hearing on Community Gardens on Tuesday August 10 at Chelsea Recreation Center at 430 West 25th Street in Manhattan

 

Hawkins said that as Governor he would work statewide to increase protections for community gardens, including providing state funds to assist with the development and maintenance of the gardens. He would also strengthen the Office of Community Gardens within the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and increase the availability of state owned land for community garden use and dedication.

 

"Community gardens are an oasis in our neighborhoods, the product of hard work by local residents. They represent all that is right about our city, when neighbors roll up their sleeves to make their communities a better place to live. Too often developers seek to profit from the hard work by taking over these properties once they have breathed live back into the neighborhood, making them a target for gentrification and economic exploitation," said Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for Governor.

 

The Greens said they supported the changes sought by Community garden advocates to the proposed NYC Parks & Recreation and Housing Preservation and Development rules, including:

  1. The Proposed Parks Rules must state that all gardens in good standing will remain as community gardens.
  2. The Rules must include a process for community gardens in good standing to be transferred to Parks.
  3. The Proposed Parks/HPD Rules threaten community gardens because they do not extend the protections established in the 2002 "Community Gardens Agreement".
  4. Rather than preserving community gardens, the Proposed Parks/HPD Rules assume all gardens are subject to development.
  5. The City Administration needs to recognize community-controlled green spaces and provide long-term solutions for making community gardens permanent.
  6. The Rules need to provide processes and procedures for creating new gardens and urban farms.

Hundreds of community gardens in NYC provide open space, recreation, and food for thousands of New Yorkers. Forty years ago, Liz Christy, the mother of the community garden movement in NYC, threw the first seed bomb into a vacant lot in he early 1970s and founded Green Guerillas; her efforts to improve the safety and beauty of neglected neighborhoods help led to over 700 gardens in NYC. Most of these gardens were created through sweat equity by neighborhood residents who volunteered to clear abandoned lots and create and maintain green space for use by seniors, children, school groups, summer camps, and, even, artists and music performers. Some gardens donate significant quantities of food to feeding programs. Gardens are usually located in communities where residents do not have yards or own a second home in the country where they could tend a plot of land. These gardens are often the only "park" on the street or in the neighborhood.

 

Gardens are also important for low-income citizens who want to become more self-sufficient, and improve their diets, yet live in communities that are considered food "deserts" with limited access to affordable fresh produce. Unfortunately, real estate prices have put pressure on local governments to sell off municipal-owned garden parcels, many of which had been gardens for many years.

 

When many of the gardens were developed, the properties were virtually abandoned; neither the local government or real estate brokers were interested. The transformation of empty, rubble-strewn lots into vibrant, community oases was often the turning point for a block, a street and eventually neighborhood revival. We need to support our hard-working neighborhood residents taking the initiative to beautify and improve their communities, feed the hungry and provide a respite for those who want to maintain a connection to the land and their agrarian past, even when they live in an urban setting or a crowded housing complex.

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