Community Gardening Benefits - New York, NY
Debbie Ortman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 01 Feb 1999 06:12:11 -0800
>Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 02:58:17 -0500
>From: Herban Kitchen <adamo@Herbankitchen.com>
>Organization: Herban Kitchen
>Subject: Community Gardening Benefits
>A very serious issue that Herban Kitchen has been active in supporting
>is the preservation of New York City's community gardens. These are
>beautiful areas of the city where members of the community have gotten
>together and worked to turn rubble and garbage strewn vacant lots into
>amazing places of lively flowers, herbs, ponds, fountains and plants of
>every imaginable type. They are places where the constructive activity
>of growing things is enjoyed and taught and passed on to young ones.
>For those of you who are or have been gardeners, you are familiar with
>how energizing an activity gardening can be. It is amazing what happens
>when you put your hands in the soil and a plant grows. Better yet if
>the plant produces delicious and healthy vegetables and fruits. Over
>the last two years, we have cultivated a container-garden in our
>adjacent lot which is used for outdoor seating. And in addition to
>being able to cut and use fresh herbs, flowers, and vegetables for the
>restaurant, we just plain had fun growing!
>Last year, after serving as hosts for the Green Guerillas (GG's) 25th
>Anniversary Benefit Party, we received some great technical assistance
>from the GG's on our garden and decided to make it an entirely edible
>garden. We had much more success under their tutelage and hopefully we
>will learn more again this year. The GG's sole purpose is to further
>the goals of community gardening in New York City. However, this past
>year, the Giuliani Administration has taken a very anti-garden stance,
>for reasons unknown. In an act of precendented insanity, the City is
>now auctioning off gardens by the dozen to potential developers while
>many vacant sites are left untouched. This action will have the effect
>of wiping out the efforts of gardens over periods of as much as twenty
>years or more. We know of no other city in the U.S. where this type of
>activity is occuring. Most cities encourage this type of activity,
>which instills pride in one's community. As we all know, New York can
>use more, not less, green space.
>Two important events on this issue are benefits which Jeanette and I are
>hosting on behalf of these community gardens. The first, which takes
>place this Wednesday, February 3 will directly benefit the Garden at 9th
>Street and Avenue C. The second will benefit the Green Guerillas and
>will be on May 12. More details of this week's benefit are below and
>more information on the May benefit will be forthcoming when it is
>available. We invite you to attend both benefits to learn more about
>the issue, to support the folks who are fighting for the preservation of
>their garden and to enjoy some excellent refreshments provided by Herban
>Kitchen as well as other great restaurants.
>As an added bonus and to encourage your attendance at this weeks benefit
>(or your gift if you can't make it), we will offer a Gift Certificate to
>Herban Kitchen of $5 for each ticket purchased. We hope you can make
>Contact information for both the 9th Street Garden and the Green
>Guerillas appears below, including the address for the new Green
>Guerillas website, though not yet complete offers some excellent
>additional information and links.
>The attached information includes the following items:
>1. Invite to 9th Street Garden Benefit
>2. Press release from the Green Guerillas regarding the Upcoming
>1. The 9th Street Community Garden & Park, Inc. Benefit Party
>The 9th Street Community Garden and Park
>is being threatened by
>Help us by attending our fund-raising party hosted by
>Jeanette Maier and Adam Ruderman
>of Herban Kitchen.
>Wednesday, February 3, 1999, 7-11 p.m.
>The Ukranian National Home
>140-142 Second Avenue
>between Eighth and Ninth Streets
>Donation fifty dollars
>____ticket(s) at $50 each. I have enclosed my check for $______.
>____We/I are unable to attend but enclose a contribution of $______.
>Please make your check payable to The 9th Street Community Garden and
>send it to: P.O. Box 2078, Peter Stuyvesant Station, New York, NY
>10009. For more information, please call (212) 886-1951 or e-mail
>Your tickets will be waiting for you at the door.
> The 9th Street Community Garden and Park, Inc. has been a vital and
>integral part of its neighborhood since 1977. It is host to many free
>cultural events such as summer concerts, dance performances and an
>annual Halloween Party for children. This unique garden has received
>the Dress Up Your Neighborhood Award every year since 1993 and the New
>Yorker for New York Award in 1996. In spite of all that the garden
>gives to the neighborhood, it continues to struggle with the City for
>use of the lot on which it grows.
> In the Spring of 1997, legislation was passed to help protect
>community gardens. A process was created to grant these gardens
>permanent status as city parks, contingent on approval by local
>community boards. In early Spring of 1998, Community Board #3 suspended
>its decision on our garden in order to consider it for possible
>development. To date, no action has been taken. If the community board
>does not act by the end of February 1999, the garden may no longer be
>eligible for permanent status, and consequently, will be available for
> We are holding this benefit to raise awareness of our situation and
>to urge the community board to approve our petition for permanent
>status. We hope you will join us.
>Sponsors of this event include:
>Trust for Public Land
>2. CITY PLANS TO AUCTION OFF MORE THAN 100 COMMUNITY GARDENS
>New York, January 4, 1999 -- As community garden leaders throughout the
>City ring in the new year, dozens of them are now faced with the grim
>fact that, if the City has its way, 1998 will be their last season of
>gardening. The December 9th and December 21st editions of The City
>Record announce a public auction of City owned land that includes more
>than 75 community garden sites. An additional 40 sites have been
>identified on the City’s land use database that will be included in the
>auction to take place in May.
>“Ever since the City transferred the community gardens to HPD this past
>April, community gardeners have been waiting for the other shoe to
>drop,” says Steven Frillmann, executive director of Green Guerillas.
>“This feels more like the whole shoe store.”
>Rather then rest and plan for next year’s community gardening season,
>community gardening leaders now must fight for the very survival of
>their gardens. They have many good arguments:
>This auction is a bad deal for New York City: “This is the ultimate
>example of short sightedness,” says Frillmann. “the average minimum
>auction price for these sights is $25,000. Meanwhile, the surrounding
>neighborhoods will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of free
>services provided by the gardening groups.” The economic impact of
>eliminating some of the only safe, useable open space in these
>neighborhoods will be overwhelmingly negative in the long term. The
>cost to the City will be many times more than the revenue gained by the
>sale of these community garden sites. The City is being penny wise and
>The City is denying communities their right to due process: The City
>has an obligation to openly and publicly review land use decisions.
>This process called ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) is
>designed to give community residents, community boards, the City Council
>and the Borough President the opportunity to study the impact of the
>disposition of City owned land. In the City’s Proposed 1999
>Consolidated Plan, ULURP is described as a process that “provides a
>long-term benefit to communities by providing them an opportunity to
>become involved in the planning and future development of their
>neighborhoods.” Only 5 garden sites on the list went through ULURP in
>the last 5 years. In fact, more than half of the more than 100 gardens
>to be auctioned went through the ULURP process more than 15 years ago.
>Anyone who cares about any piece of land in New York City should be
>extremely concerned about the City’s efforts to circumvent the
>safeguards that have been established in the City Charter.
>Higher use? Hardly: The City has consistently made the argument that
>community gardens were meant to be temporary uses of City owned land.
>They repeatedly pointed to New York City’s housing crisis and the need
>to utilize community garden sites to build affordable housing.
>Gardeners, they said, must give way to a “higher use” of the vacant land
>to help ease the housing crisis. Selling lots to the highest bidder is
>hardly a higher use. Once purchased, these sites can return to
>blighted, dangerous vacant lots as private owners take as long as they
>want to create development plans. “Let’s not lose sight of the fact
>that the majority of these pieces of land became vacant because private
>owners who purchased them in good times walked away from them in bad
>times,” says Steven Frillmann. “We are not talking about prime midtown
>Manhattan real estate with nothing but upsides for private owners. The
>City has thousands of vacant lots. Meanwhile, they are gambling with
>the future of neighborhoods that can ill afford to lose overwhelmingly
>positive assets like community gardens.”
>The City is again failing to recognize the tremendous contributions
>community gardeners have made to improving the quality of life in New
>York City: Community gardeners created these gardens by cleaning out
>vacant lots in low-income neighborhoods with their bare hands. They
>performed this back-breaking and free service to the City at a time when
>no one cared about these sites. While many of these neighborhoods
>continued to be overwhelmed with intractable problems, community gardens
>thrived and became vital neighborhood centers. This administration has
>dismissed the contributions of community gardeners and now, with this
>auction, have obviously embarked on a process to eliminate their
>contributions altogether to gain a few million dollars in revenue.
>In June of 1998 in a letter to an elected official, HPD Commissioner
>Richard Roberts stated: “HPD has a long history of working
>collaboratively with local communities through the forum of the
>Community Board to determine sites for housing and other developments.
>We will continue this effort of working with local communities to
>address their concerns for development of housing, retail and other
>commercial uses as well as open space.” Community gardeners, community
>boards and the city’s network of greening groups have clearly expressed
>their concerns in the past year. Yet, they learned of the impending
>auction by reading The City Record. Repeated calls to city agencies
>have gone unanswered.
>“Green Guerillas is encouraging people to contact their City Council
>representative to urge them to use their legislative powers to block
>this sale of these community gardens and prevent further auctions
>without full and current public reviews of the City’s plan to dispose of
>land,” says Frillmann. “Once all these gardens are gone it will be too
>The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will be holding three
>public hearings on the auction. The hearings will be held at City Hall
>on January 13th at 10:00 a.m. and January 27th at 10:00 a.m. and
>February 10th at 10:00 a.m.
>If you'd like to become a member or make a donation to the Green
>Guerillas, you can contact them as follows:
>The Green Guerillas
>625 Broadway, 9th Fl.
>New York, NY 10012
>Phone: (212) 674-8124
>Fax: (212) 505-8613
>Herban Kitchen Tel. 212-627-2257
>290 Hudson Street Fax 212-627-2513
>New York, NY 10013
>E-mail: adam@ herbankitchen.com
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