Thursday, November 3, 2011
Community gardens at risk
From the Gotham Gazette:
While New York City adopts increasingly progressive measures to promote sustainability, at least one "green" group remains unsatisfied. Some community gardeners, charging that the most recent city regulations leave them largely unprotected, fear their plots of land could be snatched away at any time.
The rules, though framed as a gift to gardeners when enacted in September 2010, do not permanently protect existing gardens as an earlier agreement did. While 282 gardens remain protected, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development reserved the right to swap the protected gardens for other similar space. That and other caveats outweigh any theoretical increase in protection, advocates say.
"We all hoped that the rules would say active gardens would be preserved, but they didn't," said Hannah Riseley-White, a community organizer for the nonprofit organization Green Guerillas. "When you read the text, it really says the gardens are protected, unless we want to sell them."
Close to 200 gardens out of around 450 -- a number that doesn’t include Department of Education gardens -- are vulnerable to sale and development under these rules, advocates say. But, more importantly, they believe, all city gardens ultimately remain in jeopardy because none of the legislation they sought made it into the 2010 agreement. Without laws to protect gardens, those who work on them say, nothing is guaranteed.
"Rules and regulations are only as good at the current administration," said Karen Washington, the president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition. "That's not permanency."