Great news for community garden lovers and anyone who loves the charm and unique character of the East Village and Lower East Side! Community Board 3’s Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs, Landmarks, & Waterfront Committee voted unanimously Thursday to support a resolution establishing a Community Gardens District in the East Village and Lower East Side. The proposal now goes to the full community board for a vote and then possibly as a bill before the City Council. For more about the proposal, including the text, click here.
But this is only the first step of a long process. The coalition organizing this effort needs the community to rally around to support this proposal. Here’s how you can help:
1) Attend the full CB3 Meeting on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at P.S. 20, 166 Essex Street between E. Houston & Stanton Streets. Meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
2) Sign Petition on Change.org and share it with your network on Facebook and Twitter; and
3) Write a letter expressing your support for a community gardens district and email it to GardensDistrictCoalition@gmail.com.
You can address letters to any or all of the following:
Mayor De Blasio
New York, New York 10007
Community Board 3
59 East 4th Street
New York, New York 10009
Coalition to Establish a Community Gardens District
336 East 4th Street
New York, New York 10009
Here’s a model letter you can adapt and use to show your support. Try to add as much of your own experience and garden stories as you can. Include photos of diverse plants, the bounty of food gardens can grow and happy neighbors enjoying the garden.
Dear Community Board 3 Members:
I am writing in support of the creation of a Community Gardens District to include all community gardens located within the boundaries of Community Board 3 (CB3), in Manhattan. Under this plan, these gardens would be mapped and designated as parks land, named a special district and continue to be managed by community based volunteers.
The East Village and Lower East Side is the birthplace of community gardening in New York and is part of what makes this neighborhood so unique. Demand for gardening in New York has exploded and community gardens are now seen as important tools in improving not only the local communities in which they are located, but as essential tools for making our city a greener, more livable, healthier place for all. But community gardens remain at constant at risk of development until they are made permanent, and particularly so here in CB#3, where we’ve lost numerous gardens to bulldozers. Despite a “Memorandum of Agreement” signed by Mayor Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in September 2002, calling for preservation of a number of gardens, over 100 gardens were classified as “subject to development following the garden review process.” The city—and its gardeners—have lost over 40 gardens since then, including several important and cherished children’s gardens, and many remain classified as “Subject to Development.” Many of these gardens are in our neighborhood and many are threatened with development pressure.
Making community gardens in our community permanent would provide numerous health and other benefits to gardeners, to fellow residents and the City overall by [INCLUDE/ADD WHATEVER OTHER BENEFITS YOU THINK GARDENS HAVE]:
> Giving residents access to fresh, healthy food
> Reducing gardeners’ monthly food costs
> Improving resident health through healthier eating and physical activity
> Creating social activities for isolated seniors
> Reducing crime and drug activity in the vicinity
> Teaching basic vocational skills
> Empowering youth and disabled residents
> Creating income opportunities for entrepreneurial gardeners
> Encouraging water conservation, waste reduction and recycling
> Beautifying communities
> Increasing overall area property value
[INSERT YOUR PERSONAL ROLE IN COMMUNITY AND INTERACTION WITH GARDENS, E.G, AS A GARDENER, PARENT, CHEF, STUDENT, YOUNG PERSON, ETC.], local gardens have become an important refuge for residents and youth and are part of the community’s fabric. The gardeners work hard to make it a place for area residents to visit, enjoy and feel safe. Even residents who don’t garden become part of the garden community and feel a sense of ownership and stewardship over a green space. [DESCRIBE YOUR GARDEN EXPERIENCES/YOUR ATTENDANCE AT EVENTS] We attend garden events and volunteer at times of need and crisis, including post-Sandy cleanup and restoration, places to eat when there was no food, gathering spots for workshops, festivals and events for the public, from Earth Day and harvest festivals, Dias de los Muertos celebrations, and holiday barbecues.
I cannot imagine our community without this important and vital—indeed, truly alive—asset. Please support this important proposal and protect our community’s precious and diminishing resource—our gardens from permanent loss by creating a Community Garden district in CB3.
Thank you for your consideration.
Very Truly Yours,