Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, even though there has been some very significant political developments. The city is proposing new rules to govern the administration — really disposition — of community gardens. I think Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, was being baldly truthful:
Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, said that there were no plans to develop parks department gardens but noted that community gardens were always considered temporary.
“The gardens have really thrived over the last eight years, but the city has to maintain its options,” he said, adding, “There is a great deal of support that the city provides to the gardens and the gardeners, and we are going to continue that.”
I’m not a policy person. I’ve read the proposed rules and my eyes glaze over. It’s all in bureaucratic language that’s meant to obfuscate. My friends who have attended the briefing sessions with city officials say the officials try assure them the new proposed rules are as good, if not better, than the state attorney general’s settlement agreement that is about to expire (hence the dash to come up with new rules). However, the lawyers who’ve looked over the new rules say “you gotta be kidding.”
What does come through to me loud and clear is the fundamental disrespect that the city is demonstrating to us community gardeners who work our asses off picking up trash, growing nutritious produce in the infamous ‘food deserts’ of the outer boroughs, running cultural and educational programs, and doing the countless other tasks that go into maintaining a community garden.
Part of the reason I’ve kept silent is that the good people at both Times Up as well as the New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) have been doing a superlative job turning up the volume. NYCCGC has spent several frustrating months negotiating with the city in good faith, only to be met with duplicity. Tomorrow they’re holding a press conference on the steps of City Hall and next week they’re turning out people to give testimony on the proposed rules.
Times Up has picked up the direct action baton that proved so successful 10 years ago. Last week they staged a Paul Revere ride to spread the word that the city’s bulldozers are coming. Then on Monday, they held an action at City Hall that included a tree sit civil disobedience.
Yes, the community garden movement is coming back strong.