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News From the Acres - February 26, 2015

26 February 2015
3 NEW COMMUNITY SPACES WITH ACCESS!

Congrats, 227 Garden, BACDYS Community Garden &
Ten Neighbors Garden!

After over 2 years of organizing, a formerly vacant lot at on West 115th between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 8th Avenue in Harlem is now officially the 227 Garden! With the help of 596 Acres neighbors successfully advocated for the lot to be transferred from the jurisdiction of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to the Parks Department with the intention of becoming a lasting community space. Awesome!

In East New York we're excited to announce that the future BACDYS Community Garden officially has signed a lease with the MTA! This space, which is at the corner of Forbell Street and Glenmore Avenue, is actually a roof of the A Train tunnel and was a park more than 25 years ago. For over two years, we helped the Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service organize, connect with resources, and negotiate with the MTA. The garden, designed by pro bono architect Wendy Andringa of GreenLab Studio in collaboration with Grain Collective, will be built this spring.New York Restoration Project will be providing materials and labor.

At the corner of Blake and Saratoga Avenues in Brownsville, Brooklyn neighbors have successfully reclaimed the Ten Neighbors Garden! The garden was closed by the city and was bulldozed in 2002 in anticipation of development that hasn't happened yet. After we hung a sign up on the lot in the Fall of 2013, neighbors and former gardeners reached out to us and we held a meeting to discuss reinvigorating the space. Lots of determination later, neighbors re-registered with GreenThumb this week. They will be supported by Project EATS as they begin to build this spring. Hooray!

GARDENS AT RISK
On Monday Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wrote a letter to Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been asking for active community gardens operating under "interim use agreements" to be removed from the Housing Preservation and Development list of sites being offered to developers. Read the letter here!

On Tuesday, Paula Segal of 596 Acres, Shai J. Lauros of Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and Suzanne Cope of 462 Halsey Community Garden in Brooklyn went on BRIC's BK LIVE show to discuss the context of Housing Preservation and Development's recent RFQ for two small homes programs and its potential affects on 17 community gardens. Watch it here!

If you live within Brooklyn Community Board 3 head over to  the Parks, Arts, and Culture Committeeon Wednesday, March 4th where the discussion will be about interim use gardens on land Housing Preservation and Development is offering for $1 to developers. The meeting will be at the board's office at 1360 Fulton Street at Marcy Avenue in Suite 202 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

IN THE MEDIA
Technical.ly named 596 Acres one of 6 Tech Groups Building a Better Brooklyn. Thanks, guys!

ON THE ROAD
Eric Breslford of 596 Acres will be presenting at the NCGIS2015, a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina as a aimed at increasing Geographical Information Systems knowledge for nonprofit usetomorrow, Friday, February 27th. He will be presenting the Urban Reviewer at a session on Spatial Analysis & Visualization, and Living Lots in a workshop on Serving the Masses. Cool! Read more here.

MARK YOU CALENDARS!
On Saturday, March 14th 596 Acres will be tabling at the 34th Annual Making Brooklyn Bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden from 10 am to 4 pm. It's a full day of workshops, talks and activities centered around growing!

On Sunday, March 15th 596 Acres will be participating in the Just Food Conference from 8 am to 7 pm at Teachers College (Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Manhattan). 596 Acres Organizer Mary Elizabeth Prall will be on panel discussion during Workshop I: Policy & Advocacy at 10:30 am on Urban Land Tenure in New York City along with Karen Washington of La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition in the Bronx and Brenda Thompson-Duchene of Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  The conference programming will cover over 40 different topics including farm and food policy issues, approaches to urban agriculture, culinary and food preservation techniques, and community-driven efforts to advance food justice throughout New York City. Tickets are $65 ($40 for students with valid ID) for the Sunday conference, but there are also sponsorship and volunteer opportunities. For more information and to register, click here.

The 21st Annual GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference is Saturday, March 21st from 9 am to 4 pm at Hostos Community College (450 Grand Concourse at East 149th Street, Bronx). 596 Acres will be tabling from 9 am to 1 pm and hosting a land access workshop from 11:30 am to 12:45pm (the first session of workshops). We're putting together a panel of New Yorkers who have successfully gotten permission to open up commons. We're also looking for one volunteer to help us table! If you'd like to be on the panel or help table and join Mary at the conference, please email her at mary@596acres.orgor call 718-316-6092 ext 3. To get details about the day and information on tickets, click the link above.

INTERN WITH US!
596 Acres is seeking an intern who can work with us 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, March 31st through June 4th, 2015. Your tasks will include putting up signs on vacant lots, helping us transition our online tools and generally helping us improve the work that we do with focus on the New York City Community Land Access program. Click here for more information and how to apply. Application due by 5:59p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2014.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
East New York, Brooklyn - East New York Restoration Local Development Corporation would like to create a community hub on the vacant City-owned lot at the corner of New Lots and Elton Street that partly sits under the subway tracks. Not surprisingly, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (who has jurisdiction over the space) says that there are no plans for developing it in sight! Do you have an idea for what the space could be used for? Contact Melinda Perkins atmperkins@enyrestoration.org or 718-676-5920 to share your ideas!

East New York, Brooklyn - Nick works for SCORES NY, a non-profit that provides youth with opportunities to play soccer, write poetry, and organize in their community! He's interested creating a temporary small soccer field and youth program on the two corner lots at Thomas H. Boyland and Park Place. If you live in the area and want to help make this a reality, join 596 Acres and Nick onSaturday, March 14th at 3 pm at a to-be-decided location. Additionally, if you know of a community center or school that could host the meeting, please let us know! Call Nick at 570-575-4323 or email him at nicholasbasalygaiv@gmail.com.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Neighbors got together Tuesday night to discuss the next planning steps for the future Hooper Street Park (at 375 South 5th and Hooper Street)! The group submitted an application to GreenThumb a few weeks ago and are anxiously waiting to hear back. In the meantime, plans in the works for a clean up day and a community visioning session to get more residents involved. Join the lot's page as an organizer to stay in the loop!

COLLABORATORS
The Design Trust for Public Space will be leading a series of workshops on the Farming Concrete (aka Five Borough Farm) Toolkit for measuring the good things happening in your garden. Want to know how many pounds of food scraps are going into your compost instead of the landfill? Want to measure the impact of your garden on gardeners’ and visitors’ moods? There are several upcoming workshops, starting with one on this Saturday February 28th from 1 pm to 3 pm at Flux Factory (39-31 29th Street between 39th and 40th Avenues, Long Island City, Queens). RSVP to5bfoutreach@farmingconcrete.org (*this address has been corrected since last week's announcement in this newsletter) and join the Facebook event. You can also find workshops on other dates in other boroughs.

Do you want to participate in creative improvements to Flushing Meadows Corona Park? Head to the Queens Museum this Sunday, March 1st from 3 pm to 5 pm for presentations as well as activities for all ages that will invite community members to thoughtfully engage with and contribute, bold ideas for improving the access, circulation, and overall connectivity of the park with its surrounding communities. This event is part of The World's Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with Its Neighborsproject in partnership with a group of community advisers, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Queens Museum, and Design Trust for Public Space. Simultaneous Spanish and Mandarin interpretation will be offered! Click here to RSVP.

Green Guerrillas is hosting its 2015 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 3rd from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Downtown Community Television Center at 87 Lafayette Street in Manhattan, just south of Canal Street. All are welcome for an evening of conversation! Learn about Green Guerrillas' program plans and community garden success stories. Enjoy food and refreshments. Free raffle with great prizes! Please RSVP by clicking here or calling 212-594-2155.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Free Bamboo? There's still some to go around!
Members of Edgemere Farm have lots of bamboo they're giving away - plants and roots! Contact John at edgemere.jc@gmail.com or 212-470-3405 to arrange a pick up near Beach 46th Street and Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, Queens.

yours,
596 Acres 


A wintery EL Garden in Bushwick, Brooklyn:

Intern With Us: Spring 2015

25 February 2015

 

596 Acres is seeking an intern who can work with us 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, March 31 - June 4, 2015. 

Your tasks will include putting up signs on vacant lots, helping us transition our online tools and generally helping us improve the work that we do with focus on the New York City Community Land Access program. Here's an unsolicited review from a former intern (now our NYC Organizer). 

This Spring we will be updating our Spanish-language materials; we are looking for an intern who is biligual and proficient at written translation.

This is an unpaid internship, though we would love it if someone else was paying you! In the past, we have worked with the East New York Farms! Externship program (that intern's reflection is here). 

You will be working out of our office at Spaceworks (540 President Street) in Gowanus, Brooklyn on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can make your own hours and there will be opportunities for field work or research on the weekends and in the evenings.

Comfort with navigation in parts of NYC you have never visited (even if you've been nearly everywhere) is key. Willingness to talk to strangers and learn how to do tasks on the computer are equally important. 

Please send a resume and a letter of interest. Include a picture of a place your neighborhood where participation by people who live or work close by could help make it better. 

Application due by 5:59p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2014, to organizers@596acres.org with the subject 'Spring 2015 Intern Application.'

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Asks Mayor to Save Gardens

23 February 2015

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wrote a letter on February 23 to Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been asking for active community gardens operating under "interim use agreements" to be removed from the lists sites offered to developers for $1 at this time. His letter is here

Eleven Brooklyn gardens have been included in a Request for Qualifications addressed to the development community. The lots that the gardens are on are being offered for free to become development sites.


News From the Acres - February 19, 2015

19 February 2015

 

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU!
We made it! Thanks to your thoughtful donations we have the funds to continue our work through June 15th, 2015. Awesome! Want to keep us going beyond then? Consider donating monthly to continue our work to help neighbors access public land.

SAVE THE DATES!
596 Acres will be tabling at the 34th Annual Making Brooklyn Bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Saturday, March 14th from 10 am to 4 pm. It's a full day of workshops, talks and activities centered around growing!

The 21st Annual GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference is Saturday, March 21st from 9 am to 4 pm at Hostos Community College (450 Grand Concourse at East 149th Street, Bronx). 596 Acres will be tabling from 9 am to 1 pm and hosting a land access workshop from 11:30 am to 12:45pm (the first session of workshops). We're putting together a panel of New Yorkers who have successfully gotten permission to open up commons. If you'd like to be on the panel and join Mary at the conference, please email her at mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3. To get details about the day and information on tickets, click the link above.

GROUNDED IN PHILLY
In Philadelphia, Garden Justice Legal Initiative (GJLI) at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphiacombines legal services, community organizing and policy advocacy and education to support people engaged in community gardening and farming. Check out this article from Generocity that highlights596 Acres' partnership with the GJLI to create: groundedinphilly.org.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Brownsville, Brooklyn - The lot at 658 Saratoga Avenue (at the corner of Blake Street) has been vacant since Ten Neighbors Garden was bulldozed in 2002. After hanging a sign up on the fence in 2013, 596 Acres has been working with neighbors to reinvigorate the space. On Tuesday at a meeting with neighbors, GreenThumb committed to the licensing the garden under the name Ten Neighbors again. Want to help make it an inclusive community space? Email Carlos at carlosdjdiaz@gmail.comor call Mary 718-316-6092 ext 3 to jump into the planning!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Neighbors organizing the future Hooper Street Park (the corner lot at 375 South 5th & Hooper Streets) are meeting this Tuesday, February 24th at 7 pm at St. Paul's Church (334 South 5th Street between Keap and Rodney Streets, just two blocks from the lot). This meeting will be a  great opportunity to review the application that was submitted to GreenThumb and discuss the governance of the new space. All are welcome!

Springfield Gardens, Queens - The Friends of the Idlewild Park Preserve want to turn the vacant lots at 147th and Springfield Lane into a native plant garden and composting site. Yesterday we heard from Department of Citywide Administrative Services that they would be willing to transfer these two lots if the Parks Department requested them. Let's get organizing! Email Thomas at tjager727@gmail.com or give him a call at  347-866-5114.

Weeksville, Brooklyn - On Tuesday night teachers from PS 335 earned unanimous support from the full board of Brooklyn Community Board 8 to start a garden at the lot across the street from their school at 1662 Bergen Street (at Rochester Avenue). Hooray! Next step? Sending in their GreenThumb application... If you're a neighbor would like to get involved, email Liesl atlzitman@verizon.net.

Lots with Access
Harlem, Manhattan - TONIGHT, February 19th at 6:30 pm Harlem gardeners on HPD land are headed to Manhattan Community Board 10's Land Use Committee meeting on the 4th floor of 215 West 125th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard to ask for the board's support in protecting these gardens from potential development due to Housing Preservation and Developments RFQ for two small homes programs that were announced last month. (We made a map!Head to the meeting to support the gardeners! Your presence counts!

Long Island City, Queens - Smiling Hogshead Ranch is holding a Happy Hour hangout TONIGHT, February 19th at Woodbines (47-10 Vernon Boulevard). This is a great chance to meet fellow gardeners and join the ranch before spring kicks in!

Harlem, Manhattan - Electric Ladybug Garden (West 111th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues) is having a general meeting on this Saturday, February 21st at 5 pm across the street from the garden in the basement of 226 West 111th. Email electricladybugharlem@gmail.com if you'd like more information.

Garden at Risk!
Almost two weeks ago Maple Street Community Garden headed back to Housing Court with their attorney Paula Segal. Eight gardeners in t-shirts came to display their support! (That's them at the top of the newsletter!) The gardeners are challenging individuals claiming to be the owners of the lot that the garden is on, a company called "Housing Urban Development, LLC". The judge did not dismiss the case brought by the alleged owners, but he made an adjournment until April 1st and wrote an order against Housing Urban Development, LLC entering or interfering with the garden! Stay tuned!

COLLABORATORS
The New York City Community Garden Coalition is holding their monthly meeting TONIGHT, February 19th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Steven Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, will be discussing the “foodshed conservation plan”, a strategy to secure regional farms that are needed if the city wants to continue to have access to local fresh food.

The Design Trust for Public Space will be leading a series of workshops on the Farming Concrete (aka Five Borough Farm) Toolkit for measuring the good things happening in your garden. Want to know how many pounds of food scraps are going into your compost instead of the landfill? Want to measure the impact of your garden on gardeners’ and visitors’ moods? There are several upcoming workshops, starting with one on Saturday February 28th from 1 pm to 3 pm at Flux Factory (39-31 29th Street between 39th and 40th Avenues, Long Island City, Queens). RSVP to 5fb@farmingconcrete.org andjoin the Facebook event. You can also find workshops on other dates in other boroughs.

The ninth annual Make Music New York returns this year on Sunday, June 21st! you're a musician looking for a place to play - or if you have a garden, restaurant, sidewalk, or other outdoor space and want musicians - you can sign up and find the perfect match for your Make Music New York concert. Click here!

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Free Bamboo?
Members of Edgemere Farm have lots of bamboo they're giving away - plants and roots! Contact John at edgemere.jc@gmail.com or 212-470-3405 to arrange a pick up near Beach 46th Street and Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, Queens.

yours,
596 Acres 

News From the Acres - February 12, 2015

12 February 2015
news from your public land watchdogs

HELP US CROSS THE FINISH LINE! 
You know you need us here. You need us here at least until summer starts. Right now we have $22,209.36 out of the $25,000 that will let us keep our staff through the Summer Solstice. Can you get us all the way there? Donate now! Can you smell the summer coming? 

GARDENS AT RISK: #HPDLIST
Last month NYC Housing Preservation and Development published a list of 181 City-owned properties available to developers for free to build new housing on. Seventeen active community gardens were included on this list without any consultation from the gardeners, the GreenThumb program, local City Council representatives or the community boards for the districts where the properties are located. We created a map and let all the stakeholders know how the list affected their gardens.

Our work helped get impacted gardeners, their neighbors, the New York City Community Garden Coalition and many many allies to the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to not give our land away. Council Members Antonio Reynoso, Robert Cornegy, Mark Levine and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer each wrote a letter asking for the gardens to be preserved and for our precious public land resources to be carefully considered before being given away (you can read the letters by clicking on their names). The New York Times covered the story and go the Mayor on record saying, "we’ll take a hard look at whether communities are best served by these gardens staying as they are. We’ll make those decisions in partnership with each community.” 

Check out photos from the rally here and watch gardeners from Harlem Valley Garden and Patchen Community Square speak up on Brian Lehrer on CUNY TV! (That's a shot of the sound room at the bottom of this newsletter!)

Want to keep the momentum going to preserve the gardens on the #hpdlist? There are action steps on the New York City Community Garden Coalition web page. Write a letter to your council member! Email your borough liaison to the Mayor's office! And keep in touch with gardens at risk to ask how you can help!

FAREWELL TO THE QUEENS MUSEUM...
This past weekend marked our last Sunday of programing and the end our our exhibit Reviewing Renewal at the Queens Museum. Click here to see photos from the closing reception and read this recent article about the exhibition from Thought Catalog.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Corona, Queens - On Tuesday, 596 Acres and Immigrant Movement International (IMI) hosted an awesome meeting to discuss crafting a campaign to open up the lot at 4316 111th Street (at 45th Avenue), which has been vacant for over 20 years. IMI and neighbors would like to use it socialize and grow food. Call IMI at 718-424-6502 to get involved! 

Harlem - Diana is the director of EnviHarlem, an organization promoting green initiatives and environmental stewardship. They're interested in creating a composting project and farmstead area in the space next to the railroad tracks just below this lot at West 145th Street and Riverside Drive. Get in touch with Diana if you'd like to help her craft a proposal for making the plans a reality! Email enviharlem@gmail.com.

Harlem, Manhattan - Takina was born and raised in Harlem and has a passion for green environments! She would love to turn the lot at 1811-13 Park Avenue into a community space hosting a Harmonic Harlem Greenhouse that can hold educational workshops for youth. If you'd like to help her, plan to come to meeting in Harlem on Thursday, February 26th. Email mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 for details.

East New York, Brooklyn - Nick works for SCORES NY, a non-profit that provides youth with opportunities to play soccer, write poetry, and organize in their community! He's interested in taking what he's learned through his job and branching out to create a small soccer field to begin a youth program in East New York. He's got his eyes on the two corner lots at Thomas H. Boyland and Park Place. A meeting is being planned for a Saturday afternoon in the coming weeks. Do you know some kids in the area that would love a soccer field? Call Nick at 570-575-4323 or email him at nicholasbasalygaiv@gmail.com.

Lots with Access
Harlem, Manhattan - Electric Ladybug Garden (West 111th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues) is having a general meeting on Saturday, February 21st at 5 pm across the street from the garden in the basement of 226 West 111th. Email electricladybugharlem@gmail.com if you'd like more information.

COLLABORATORS
Harlem Grown is hiring a new Executive Director! This non-profit is focused on inspiring youth through hands-on education, urban gardening, strong role models, and a constant presence in the community. They're looking for an entrepreneurial, experienced, and organized Executive Director to manage its growing operation. See more details here.

GreenThumb is hosting Crazy for Composting this Saturday, February 14th from 10 am to noon and 1 pm to 3 pm at the New York Botanical Garden (200 Kazimiroff Boulevard, Bronx) in room Watson Education Building, Room 302. If you're passionate about composting and love to learn how to make the most out of your bin, the session will provide advice and encouragement! Beginners or seasoned composters welcome! RSVP by clicking here.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Deadline approaching!
GreenThumb invites registered GreenThumb Community Gardens to submit proposals to receive micro-grant funding for local community farmer’s market programs! The Farmer’s Market Grant Program awards $2,000-$5,000 for the development and/or establishment of farmer’s markets within neighborhoods where healthy food is scarce or inaccessible. Proposals are due this Monday, February 16, 2015 by 5:00pm. Click here for more info and to download the application.
 

yours,
596 Acres 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Asks Mayor to Save Gardens, Preserve Land for Community Land Trust

12 February 2015

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wrote a letter on February 10 to the Mayor and Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been.

She supports gardens staying where they are and the use of precious public land to for community needs: specifically, to transfer to the New York Community Land Initiative's partner community land trust in Manhattan, the El Barrio Community Land Trust. The original letter is here

Six Manhattan gardens have been included in a Request for Qualifications addressed to the development community. The lots that the gardens are on are being offered for free to become development sites.

 

Council Member Robert Cornegy Asks Mayor to Save Gardens

10 February 2015

Council Member Robert Cornegy read the below statement on the City Hall steps this morning. Council Member Cornegy has five gardens in his district that have been included in a Request for Qualifications addressed to the development community. The lots that the gardens are on are being offered for free to become development sites. 

"Good Morning, all. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak today. This is actually the first public statement I have made about HPD’s inclusion of community gardens on the list of development sites, so you’ve shown a lot of faith by giving me the mic. I’m pleased that we have the mutual trust that makes that possible.

There was a reason I didn’t speak out immediately following HPD’s publication of the list of development properties in January, even though there were more gardens listed in my district then any other. I wanted to take the time to try and understand HPD’s decision making. There’s no doubt that the 36th district needs more truly affordable housing. And it’s a good thing that HPD is acting on it commitment to construct a small number of units for affordable home ownership. I was open to an explanation that demonstrated the absolute necessity of using the garden sites. I asked for a full explanation, but that’s not what I’ve received.

Specifically, I asked that HPD share the objective criteria used to determine which vacant lots were appropriate for inclusion in this RFP. Shockingly, they have shared NO criteria. And I asked that HPD provide me with a map of list of all the city-owned properties in the district of every size, to show that these much loved garden sites were somehow uniquely appropriate. Again, HPD chose to share nothing.

Yesterday, HPD informed me that it is “evaluating” the decision to include the 16 gardens in the RFP but they STILL would not share any information on the factors in this reported re-evaluation or the original selection. Is it fair for all of these deliberations to be happening only among HPD’s staff? NO!

This refusal to be transparent and engage in anything resembling a collaborative decision-making process is extremely problematic. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any excuse for it. HPD’s secrecy is putting both the gardens’ members and elected officials in an unnecessary position and today, I’m speaking out to reject their false dichotomy.

We live together in community. We garden together in community. And our communities deserve gardens and high, quality truly affordable housing. Our communities deserve a process that respects their deep level of engagement with our city government and with one another.  We refuse to be excluded in a way that pits these two goals against one another.

Unless HPD demonstrates that these garden sites are uniquely appropriate for development, I will stand with you against their destruction. And if I am convinced that the loss of the gardens cannot be avoided, I will share all the information I have to explain that decision, support gardening and greening in other ways and fight to ensure that the sacrifice is worth it, because the housing produced is high quality and accessible to average families in the district.

I thank you for your dedication to the gardens, to one another and for your advocacy."

Council Member Mark Levine Asks Mayor to Save Gardens

09 February 2015

Parks Committee Chair Council Member Mark Levine sent Vicki Been, Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development, the letter below on February 4. He is urging HPD not to build on existing gardens and to create a process for site selection for future housing development that includes gardeners. You can see the original letter here and a map we made of the impacted sites here.

February 4, 2015

Vicki Been, Commissioner NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
100 Gold Street
New York, NY 10038

Dear Commissioner Been:

I write to address two issues that are of great concern to my constituents and all New Yorkers — the development of affordable housing and the preservation of our treasured community green spaces. I believe that whenever possible we must ensure that one does not come at the expense of the other.

As chair of the City Council’s Parks Committee, I consider New York City’s community gardens to be an essential part of our parks system. Decades of hard work and loving care by volunteer gardeners have turned hundreds of abandoned and vacant plots into drivers of healthy eating, environmental education, public safety, community building, and more. These community green spaces have become a vital component of neighborhood life in our city. They also serve as the primary open spaces for many New Yorkers who don’t have a park nearby. Protecting these gardens is beneficial to our health, stability, beauty, and quality of life. 

For these reasons I was concerned to learn that HPD’s recently published list of city-owned sites available for infill housing development includes several lots that currently house community gardens. Why were these currently occupied sites chosen rather than the hundreds of other city-owned vacant lots that now sit empty? Was the presence of a community garden at any of these locations factored into the selection process? Were volunteers at the affected gardens involved in any way in the selection process?

I recognize that in some neighborhoods there are few options for locating much-needed affordable housing. In hopes that we can avoid advancing one critical public policy priority at the expense of another one, I am requesting a meeting to develop a strategy for evaluating existing community gardens on the list of potential HPD infill sites that will include robust community process prior to final decision.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Mark Levine

Council Member, 7th District

CC: Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Nancy Kohn, Executive Director, GreenThumbNYC

News From the Acres - February 5, 2015

05 February 2015
rally to save gardens at risk! - city hall / tuesday, 2-10 / 9 am

GARDENS AT RISK 
MAPLE STREET COMMUNITY GARDEN FACING EVICTION ACTION IN HOUSING COURT

Show your support for Maple Street Community Garden (Maple Street at Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn) as they head back to Housing Court with Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP as their attorney TOMORROW, Friday, February 6th at 9:30 am in Part 52/Room 603 (the commercial part of housing court) at 141 Livingston Street (at Smith Street) in Brooklyn. RSVP to Tom Lafarge at maple3garden@gmail.com so that the gardeners know how many t-shirts to make & bring!

JOIN HPD-LOT GARDENERS ON NYC CITY HALL STEPS ON TUESDAY!
Join us this Tuesday, February 10th at 9 am on the steps of NYC City Hall as gardeners on lots recently identified as potential future housing development ask the Mayor to not give our land away to developers for free. Two weeks ago, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) published a list of 181 City-owned properties included in a Request for Qualifications for developers to build rental and ownership housing within the limits set by two programs (described here). Seventeen of the sites selected are currently active community gardens. We are asking for all HPD community gardens to be transferred to Parks and for this administration to collaboratively create a just green "Homes & Gardens" policy. Tell friends! Dress up! Bring a sign! More details here.

A GARDEN PRESERVED - IN PERPETUITY! 
The 1100 Bergen Street Community Garden (between Nostrand and New York Avenues in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) is officially the 34th garden to be placed into the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT)! This 34 year old garden was started on leased property that was then purchased by the Trust for Public Land in the 1980's, and then transferred to the 1100 Bergen Street Block Association in 1989. The gardeners have independently owned the garden since then. By transferring the land to the BQLT now in 2015, they are insuring that it will have a long term and stable steward, as well as protecting it from potential future exposure to tax liens or other foreclosures. Hooray! Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP represented the gardeners in the transaction. Read the full press release here and check out the photo of the transaction at the bottom of this newsletter!

WE NEED YOUR HELP
Our work has never been more pressing, or more urgent. But as of today, 596 Acres does not have enough funds to last through mid-2015. After that, without further support, all of our work could quickly come to a halt. Amazingly, in the last week, you've helped us raise over $10,000 towards our goal of raising $25,000 by February 8th! Let's keep it up. We’ve always done a lot with our tiny budget, because our efforts are bolstered by the energy and enthusiasm of dedicated people like youPlease make a donation to 596 Acres today.

NEWS FROM THE ACRES
On Tuesday night we held an awesome Community Land Access Workshop & 596 Acres' General Meeting at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch in the Information Commons Room! In addition to several people who attended to get more info about land access, we had several organizers in attendance who are working on campaigns in their neighborhoods. That's us at the top of the newsletter!

Weeksville, Brooklyn - On Tuesday, Community Board 8's Parks Committee granted unanimous support for a school and community garden at the corner lot at 1662 Bergen Street! This means the group has everything they need to apply to GreenThumb! If you know a neighbor who might want to get involved, get in touch with Liesl by emailing lzitman@verizon.net!

Corona, Queens - The Department of Transportation is willing to again consider a request to transform the lot at 4316 111th Street (at 45th Avenue), which has been vacant for over 20 years, into a community space. Join us Tuesday, February 10th at 6:30pm at Immigrant Movement International, 108-59 Roosevelt Avenue (steps from the 111th street Stop on the 7 line) to plan next steps and an organized campaign to get growing by the Spring. (Meeting will be in Spanish & English!)

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - The future Hooper Street Garden at 375 South 5th Street submitted their GreenThumb application on Tuesday! Fingers crossed the gates will be open by Spring! If you'd like to get involved, email mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Carroll Gardens - Neighbor Michelle has been working on gathering items to apply to GreenThumb to turn the lot at 307 Columbia Street into a garden. Want to join in and help design the space? Contact Michelle at michelle@michelleocampo.com.

LAST CHANCE: REVIEWING RENEWAL AT THE QUEENS MUSEUM
Join us again this Sunday, February 8th from 3 pm to 6pm for our last Sunday of awesome, free programming:

  • 3 pm to 4 pm: Reviewing Renewal Curator Walk & Talk in the Panorama: Paula Z. SegalRSVP on Facebook and get more details here.
  • 4 pm to 6 pm: Discussion, Reception and Reviewing Renewal Film Presentation: The Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The destruction and survival of a New York City neighborhood. This short film depicts New York City's Manhattantown (1951), one of the first projects authorized under urban renewal and which destroyed six blocks on New York City's Upper West Side, including an African-American community that dated to the turn of the century. A discussion and reception will follow! RSVP on Facebook and get more details here.
Looking back at last Sunday... GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

NEW GREENTHUMB GRANT!
GreenThumb invites registered GreenThumb Community Gardens to submit proposals to receive micro-grant funding for local community farmer’s market programs! The Farmer’s Market Grant Program awards $2,000-$5,000 for the development and/or establishment of farmer’s markets within neighborhoods where healthy food is scarce or inaccessible. Proposals are due Monday, February 16, 2015 by 5:00pm. Click here for more info and to download the application.

FREE MULCH!
Smiling Hogshead Ranch got a big load of mulch a couple weeks ago from a tree service company, and there's more to go around! Gardeners wanting a dump truck full (5-9 cubic yards) of mulch delivered (definitely in Brooklyn & Queens but maybe elsewhere) get in touch with Big Dave at "Trees R' Us" by calling 631-742-3669.

yours,
596 Acres 

Garden Oasis: 1100 Bergen Street Block Community Garden Now Protected In Perpetuity

03 February 2015

 

Today, a garden that has been an oasis in the Crown Heights neighborhood for over 34 years has found a permanent institutional home. The 1100 Bergen Community Garden, located on Bergen Street between Nostrand and New York Avenues, is officially the 34th garden to be placed into the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT). 

The garden was founded in 1980, on leased property. During the 1980’s the lots comprising the garden were purchased by the Trust for Public Land from the City and a private owner, and then transferred to the 1100 Bergen Street Block Association in 1989.  The gardeners have independently owned the garden since then. By transferring the land to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust now in 2015, they are insuring that it will have a long term and stable steward, as well as protecting it from potential future exposure to tax liens or other foreclosures. 

"We were thrilled to help secure this land in the 1980s for the block association," says Andy Stone, Director, NYC Program, The Trust for Public Land,  "And we're just as pleased in 2015 that the lot is preserved in an even more secure way through the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust." 

"This is such a relief. I can sleep now. Before I was worrying and worrying that we would mess up the paperwork and lose the garden," says Hazel Hurley, 1100 Bergen Street Community Garden Vice President, who has been a garden member since 1979 and lives across the street. "Going forward from here, I'll be more light and I'll be able to do more things. This year, we applied for a grant from Citizen's Committee to teach children about gardening. We plan to trim the trees and fixing the fence and continuing our compost program." 

"Protecting the 1100 Bergen Community Garden under the ownership of Brooklyn Queens Land Trust is a true win-win for all parties involved," says Meg Fellerath, BQLT Board President and community gardener. "It's been so satisfying to work collaboratively with everyone over the past year to make this happen, and we couldn't be happier to welcome this garden into the BQLT family! We are especially appreciative of the pro bono legal counsel provided to BQLT by the attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, including Frederic C. Rich, Theodore D. Holt and Jeffrey S. Arbeit, and the skill with which this team negotiated and facilitated the deed transfer."

"A permanent green space in an urban community is very close to my heart and I am terribly excited that we are able to contribute these lots to that effort. I hope to teach young people how to appreciate our garden for the future," says Walton Wilson, who lived on the block in 1980 when the garden got started and is the President of the 1100 Bergen Street Community Garden today. 

"Getting long-term community gardens safely into stable land trusts like the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust is such a relief! I'm so glad to be able to represent the 1100 Bergen Street gardeners in this transaction and to further a larger strategy for community control of the resources that make our neighborhoods thrive," says Paula Z. Segal, the 1100 Bergen Street gardeners' attorney and director of 596 Acres, an organization with the mission of advocating for community access to land. 

“Gardens provide opportunities for neighbors to enrich community connections while focusing on health and intergenerational learning. I join community members in celebrating the 1100 Bergen Street Community Garden’s transition into the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, an affiliation that will preserve this precious resource for generations to come,” says District 36 Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

"This is one of the most exciting days in the history of Brooklyn Queens Land Trust since the initial conveyance of 32 gardens from the Trust for Public Land back in 2011," says Demetrice Mills, former BQLT Board President  and current chair of the BQLT Operations Committee. "We are very excited to play a part in preserving gardens from developers for development, and preserving garden in perpetuity. This is big deal for all involved and the community at large."

Press contacts: 
Meg Fellerath, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, meg.fellerath@gmail.com, (718) 963-7020
Paula Z. Segal, 596 Acres/1100 Bergen Street Community Garden, paula@596acres.org (718) 316-6092 x2

 

 

Photo caption (L-R): Demetrice Mills (seated, BQLT), Irene Van Slyke (standing, BQLT), Meg Fellerath (seated, BQLT), Paula Z. Segal (standing, 596 Acres/1100 Bergen Street), Hazel Hurley (seated, 1100 Bergen), Walton Wilson (seated, 1100 Bergen)

News From the Acres - January 29, 2015

29 January 2015
"2015 here we come!" - alexis, organizer in rockaway

Maple Street
Show your support for Maple Street Community Garden (Maple Street at Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn) as they head back to Housing Court with Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP as their attorney on Friday, February 6th at 9:30 am in Part 52/Room 603 (the commercial part of housing court) at 141 Livingston Street (at Smith Street) in Brooklyn. RSVP to Tom Lafarge at maple3garden@gmail.com so that the gardeners know how many t-shirts to make & bring! Last week the gardeners met with Council Member Matthieu Eugene to thank him for dedicating 2015 discretionary funding to the garden and to ask him to work on making Maple Street permanent. That's the gardeners and Council Member above!

Reviewing Renewal this weekend at the Queens Museum
Join us again this Sunday, February 1st, 12-6pm for awesome, free programming all day:

  • Reviewing Renewal Film Presentation: The Rink, noon to 1 pm. This documentary depicts Branch Brook Park Roller Rink, located in Newark, NJ, a space cherished by skaters and a city struggling to move beyond its past and forge a new narrative amidst contemporary social issues. RSVP on Facebook and get more details here.
  • What happens to a neighborhood “renewed?”, 1 pm to 2 pm. Attorney Amy Laura Cahn and historian Marci Reaven will talk about the disempowering force of “blight” declarations and role of community planning boards and people’s plans, looking at New York City and Eastwick, Philadelphia--the largest urban renewal site in the USA. RSVP on Facebook and get more details here.
  • Urban Renewal is Scapegoated to Justify Current Conditions of Spatial Domination, an Artist Walk & Talk with Damon Rich, 2 pm to 4 pm. Designer, planner, and visual artist Damon Rich will present work about and around urban renewal and discuss applications of planning exhibitions for practice in his work as founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and Planning Director for the City of Newark, New Jersey. RSVP on Facebook and get more details here.
  • From Redlining to Gentrification, 4 pm to 6 pm. A program hosted by the University of Orange's Dr. Mindy Fullilove and a viewing of the film she wrote, Urban Renewal is People Removal (2005). Check out the Facebook and get more details here.

Community Land Access Workshop & 596 Acres' General Meeting
Tuesday, February 3rd from 7 pm to 8:30 pm we'll be at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch (10 Grand Army Plaza) in the Information Commons Room hosting a Land Access Workshop and General Meeting! This is a great opportunity to meet folks from other neighborhoods and boroughs who can share their struggles and successes in working to open up vacant land. Whether you're in the middle of a campaign or just curious about how to get started, we'd love to have you! Contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 with questions.

NEWS FROM THE ACRES
Weeksville, Brooklyn - For months Liesl, a teacher at PS 335, has been working on gathering materials for an GreenThumb application to turn the corner lot across from the school at 1662 Bergen into a garden for her school and the neighbors! Her last step? Meeting with the Parks Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 8 Tuesday, February 3rd at 6 pm at St. John's Recreation Center (1251 Prospect Place between Troy and Schenectady Avenues) to get a letter of support. Want to join the effort and head to the meeting, too? Get in touch with Liesl by emailing lzitman@verizon.net!

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - There's a new organizer ready to revive the campaign to start a garden onthe lot on Fulton Street between Bedford Avenue and Spencer Place. Give Orville a call at 917-873-3111 or shoot him an email at ocmcnally@gmail.com if you want to help! You might also see him hanging out in front of the lot trying to meet neighbors. Say hi!

Rockaway, Queens - Alexis and neighbors have everything they need to submit and application to GreenThumb for the corner lot at 357 Beach 43rd! Fingers crossed this space will have its gate unlocked by Spring!

NYC GARDENS AT RISK
Two weeks ago, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) published a list of 181 City-owned properties included in a Request for Qualifications for developers to build rental and ownership housing within the limits set by the program and in exchange get the land for free. The program is described hereSeventeen of the sites selected are currently active community gardens. Over 750 sites in HPD's inventory were not included. With the help of a fabulous volunteer, we created a map (updated at the link) that shows which properties were included in the list, which properties in HPD's inventory were not included and where the gardens included in the list are located. Council Member Antonio Reynoso already sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation, asking to have EL Garden (in his district) and the other sixteen active community gardens removed from the list. The gardeners and allies - including us - will be meeting as the New York City Community Garden Coalition TONIGHT, Thursday, January 29th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Fortune Society's Castle Gardens building (625 West 140th Street near Riverside Drive). Join the struggle to keep these vibrant spaces public!

COLLABORATORS
New York Restoration Project is hiring a public programs coordinator for Upper Manhattan to work in community engagement and with public program staff to expand opportunities for groups and individuals to become involved in their environmental work. Check out the job listing here.

El Puente is hiring a director for Green Light District, a ten-year community development initiative to sustain, grow, green, and celebrate Williamsburg's Southside community! Learn more here.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

GRANT DEADLINE MONDAY!
Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund grant applications are due February 1, 2015. The Partnership makes small grants of up to $5,000 to strengthen the outreach, membership, and program-planning capacity of groups caring for NYC Parks Department property in all five boroughs of New York City.

The Hudson Valley Seed Library is giving away seeds! You can nominate your group until this Saturday, January 31st.

yours,
596 Acres 


#reviewingrenewal with the Manhattan Projects Tour last Saturday at the Queens Museum.

Council Member Antonio Reynoso Asks Mayor to Save Gardens

26 January 2015

Council Member Antonio Reynoso just sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation, asking to have El Garden and the other seventeen active community gardens on the Housing Preservation and Development Request for Qualifications list inviting developers to propose to build housing on these same sites removed from the list.

You can see the original letter here and a map we made of the impacted sites here. That's some of the BK ROT crew above. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Commissioner Kathryn Garcia
NYC Department of Sanitation
59 Maiden Lane, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10038

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia,

I am writing to express my concern over a number of the sites listed in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s most recent RFQ for the New Infill Home Ownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP) and Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP). A number of these sites are active public gardens, which provide significant benefits to surrounding communities and city-wide organics collection efforts. I am a strong proponent for the construction of affordable housing, as my district has experienced some of the most severe impacts from the City’s housing crisis; however, I am also an advocate for comprehensive planning. Additionally, as Chair of the Sanitation Committee, I am concerned about the impact that development of these sites may have on active composting operations, depleting the City’s already limited capacity to process organic waste.

As we continue to strive toward improved diversion rates, we must protect and support facilities that provide processing capacity for organic waste, particularly at the local level. This is especially important as we near the July, 2015 implementation date for Intro 1162, which would require commercial businesses to begin source separating organics. This law will only go into effect if the Commissioner determines that there is sufficient capacity to process this waste in facilities located within 100 miles of the city. Currently, the capacity for processing organic waste is insufficient for this bill to be meaningfully implemented. However, this does not mean that we should cease our search for creative ways to increase this capacity and process waste at the local level.

The lot at 120 Jefferson Street in Bushwick in my district, listed on HPD’s RFQ list, is currently operating under the name “El Garden” and is home to BK Rot’s composting initiative. BK Rot is a local organization that has been processing local organic waste in Bushwick since the summer of 2013, employing local youth and diverting waste from landfills. Additionally, this garden provides essential open space in a community that has long suffered from a lack of quality green areas. Losing a site such as El Garden would eliminate open space and jobs, while decreasing the local capacity for processing organic waste.

I urge you to direct HPD to remove this site, as well all other active community gardens, from its most recent list of developable sites. HPD has hundreds of potential sites on which it can develop affordable housing. I am asking that sites that are truly lying fallow be prioritized over those with active uses. I believe this action is in the best interest of DSNY and the Mayor’s Office, as it will protect capacity for local composting and ensure stability of open space. I will be happy to speak with you further about how we can work together to preserve these community resources.

Sincerely,

Antonio Reynoso
NYC Council Member 34
th District
Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management 

News From the Acres - January 22, 2015

22 January 2015
LA Open Acres is live, Reviewing Renewal continues, NYC Gardens at risk, new opportunities in Queens & Staten Island and great resources from our friends

LA OPEN ACRES
Our LA tool is live and being used by Community Health Councils. 
Check out this great article to read about how it's making an impact already.

REVIEWING RENEWAL AT THE QUEENS MUSEUM
Looking back at the first two weeks of our Queens Museum Residency...

  • Listen to the Reviewing Mitchell-Lama panel we co-hosted with the NYC Planners Network here (it starts a bit abruptly; that's Paula talking about Robert Moses' role in getting the Urban Renewal mechanisms running in NYC). It was an amazing conversation with renters, experts and cooperative owners working through it together; we're so lucky to have had Molly Garfinkle from City Lore on hand to record it! 
  • Read a dispatch from our tour of Willet's Point in Brownstoner (the Urban Renewal Area Plan was adopted in 2008 and the City has already completed acquisition of properties in the plan area; resident businesses are in the middle of phased relocation). 
  • Check out photos of the Reviewing Renewal Opening on January 11 by Christina Sukhgian Houle and our incredible day of programs on Sunday, January 18 by Badrul Hisham. The theme of the second day was Private Property and Public Purpose – Eminent Domain, the Mitchell-Lama Cooperatives and the Power of One Organized Neighborhood and included Planners Network NYC, Rockaway Wildfire, Cooper Square Committee, Picture the Homeless, Tenants & Neighbors, the film It Took 50 Years and all of you... See the photo below which documents the meeting of four great organizations on a perch high above the city. 

And forward...
Join us again this Sunday, January 25, 12-6pm - there will awesome, free programming all day, What Was and What Becomes – Focus on Manhattan, Williamsburg’s Southside and Queens:

  • The Manhattan Projects Tour, noon to 1 p.m., a tour of the projects that created the blueprint for the Urban Renewal program in the years after World War II, with author Samuel Zipp guiding us around the island of Manhattan on the panorama that Robert Moses commissioned for the 1964 World Fair. Meet at the bottom of the ramp.Details hereRSVP here. 
  • Before Lincoln Center, 1- 2:30 p.m. Archival footage and a discussion about the resistance of a Latino community slated for replacement with the new West Side and Lincoln Center. Second floor theater. Details hereRSVP here. 
  • Williamsburg’s South Side, 2:30 - 4 p.m. Urban Renewal Plans continue to shape the South Side and Broadway Triangle neighborhoods. Join Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and the Broadway Triangle Coalition to learn about what's at stake and what's to be done. In the Unisphere gallery. Details hereRSVP here. 
  • Reviewing Renewal in Queens, 4 - 6 p.m. Explore Queens' urban renewal history, from the demolition of the bungalows in Rockaway to make way for ... waiting, to the deliberate replacement of an integrated rowhouse community in downtown Flushing to create a parking structure and lure shoppers into the new department stores being built there in the 1950s and 1960s. Meet at the top of the ramp. Details here. RSVP here. 

Reviewing Renewal includes markers for all of the urban renewal plans that the City has ever adopted as an intervention directly on the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum. We have brought the online Urban Reviewer map to life at a 1:1200 scale of on the 9,335 square foot Panorama! This exhibit runs through February 8th, 2015 with talks, readings, discussions, and film showings happening every Sunday! For more information on the exhibit and programming details, click here. We have also published a printed map: the first updated atlas of all the urban renewal plan areas in NYC since the City's own 1984 publication. Come get yours at the museum while they last! 

NYC GARDENS AT RISK
Last week, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) published a list of 181 City-owned properties included in a Request for Qualifications for developers to build rental and ownership housing within the limits set by the program and in exchange get the land for free. The program is described hereSixteen of the sites selected are currently active community gardens. Over 750 sites in HPD's inventory were not included.

DNAInfoBrownstonerTelemundo and the Observer have covered the impact of this part of the Mayor's Housing Plan on existing gardens. It's awesome to have all our voices in the conversation as we decide the future of our neighborhoods, together. 

With the help of a fabulous volunteer, we created a map that shows which properties were included in the list, which properties in HPD's inventory were not included and where the gardens included in the list are located. Click here or on the image above for a larger version. These are the impacted gardens: 

  • Harlem Valley Garden (Manhattan, a 596 Acres network site)
  • Jackie Robinson Community Garden (Manhattan)
  • Harlem Grown - Greenhouse (Manhattan)
  • Electric Ladybug Community Garden (Manhattan, a 596 Acres network site)
  • Pleasant Village Community Garden (Manhattan)
  • McKinley's Children's Garden (Queens)
  • Isabahliah Ladies of Elegance (Brooklyn)
  • La Casita Verde (Brooklyn, a 596 Acres network site)
  • Halsey, Ralph & Howard Community Garden (Brooklyn)
  • EL Garden (Brooklyn, a 596 Acres network site)
  • Patchen Community Square (Brooklyn, a 596 Acres network site)
  • 462 Halsey Community Garden (Brooklyn, a 596 Acres network site)
  • Tranquility Farm (Brooklyn) 
  • Brownsville Student Farm (Brooklyn)
  • Imani Garden (Brooklyn)
  • New Harvest Community Garden (Brooklyn)

Support the gardens in your neighborhoods and let your City Council members know what you think about HPD's selection and the impact of the housing plan on the institutions you care about.

  • Robert Cornegy has five impacted gardens in his district (Patchen Community Square, Tranquility Farm, 462 Halsey Community Garden, Imani Garden & New Harvest Garden). 
  • Inez Dickens represents four of the impacted gardens (Electric Ladybug Garden, the Harlem Grown Greenhouse, Harlem Valley Garden & the Jackie Robinson Community Garden). 
  • Darlene Mealy represents three (Isabaliah Ladies of Elegance, Brownsville Student Farm  & the Halsey, Ralph and Howard Community Garden).
  • Steve Levin represents La Casita Verde.
  • Antonio Reynoso represents EL Garden.
  • Melissa Mark-Vevirito represents Pleasant Village.
  • Ruben Wills represents McKinley's Children's Garden.

Click on the councilmember's name to get contact information and make a call now. Councilmembers love hearing from their own constituents but also recognize that having adequate open space is an issue that impacts the whole city. 

NEWS FROM THE ACRES
Corona, Queens - Spring 2015 is coming! The Department of Transportation is willing to again consider our request to transform this lot, which has been vacant for over 20 years, into a community space. And it might be time to ask the Mayor for help opening up this bit of public land as a neighborhood resource. Join us next Tuesday, January 27 at 6:30pm at Immigrant Movement International, 108-59 Roosevelt Avenue (steps from the 111th street Stop on the 7 line) to plan next steps and an organized campaign to get growing by the Spring. (Meeting will be in Spanish & English!). 

Eastern Shore, Staten Island - the Community Board expressed its support for a new community space on this Hempstead Avenue lot. Join organizer Blake to help shape the future of this piece of our land!  Email notasissy88@yahoo.com.

COLLABORATORS
Our friends at the North West Bushwick Community Group have put together a wonderful list of things to do in their neighborhood to support its stability. We love this so much and hope that all your neighborhoods have lists like this. We'd love to see what you're inspired to create after seeing this and to hear about something new you experienced after reading this list if you're a resident of Bushwick. 

The Department of Sanitation is now accepting applications for its 2015 Master Composter Certificate Course. Sign up to learn how to make precious soil from NYC's waste. Classes are held at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan, Queens Botanic Garden and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island. The applications and deadlines are here. Also from the Department of Sanitation: the 2014 Community Composting Report is out! It provides the first-ever comprehensive look at this neighborhood-based network. 

Have questions about your rent stabilized apartment? Not sure if your landlord is right when they tell you that your current lease isn't renewable? This great article and the folks at Tenants & Neighbors might help. We really want you to be able stay in your neighborhood and keep building together!

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Grant deadlines!
Citizens Committee of New York City 2015 Neighborhood Grants are due January 26th, 2015! Contact grants@citizensnyc.org or call 212-822-9563 with questions.

Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund grant applications are due February 1, 2015. The Partnership makes small grants of up to $5,000 to strengthen the outreach, membership, and program-planning capacity of groups caring for NYC Parks Department property in all five boroughs of New York City.

yours,
596 Acres 


#reviewingrenewal with Picture the Homeless, Rockaway Wildfire & the United Peninsula Working to Attain Responsible Development (UPWARD) Coalition, the Cooper Square Committee & 596 Acres. 

Gardens on Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) List of Sites Available for Housing Development

21 January 2015

** updated February 5, 2015 **

Last week, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) published a list of 181 City-owned properties included in a Request for Qualifications for developers to build rental and ownership housing within the limits set by the program and in exchange get the land for free. The program is described here: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/developers/request-for-qualifications/nihop-ncp-rfq.page (link updated February 5, 2015; HPD moved the RFQ to a different place on its website). 

Seventeen of the sites selected are currently active community gardens. Over 750 sites in HPD's inventory were not included. 

These are the impacted gardens: 

Manhattan

  • Harlem Valley

  • Jackie Robinson Community Garden

  • Harlem Grown - Greenhouse

  • Electric Ladybug Community Garden

  • Pleasant Village Community Garden

Queens

  • McKinley's Children's Garden

Brooklyn

  • Isabahliah Ladies of Elegance

  • La Casita Verde

  • Halsey, Ralph & Howard Community Garden

  • EL Garden

  • Patchen Community Square

  • 462 Halsey Community Garden

  • Tranquility Farm

  • Brownsville Student Farm

  • Imani Garden

  • New Harvest Community Garden

  • Green Valley Communtiy Garden and Farmers Market

The map below shows which properties were included in the list, which properties in HPD's inventory were not included and where the gardens included in the list are located. Click the image for a larger version. 

News From the Acres - January 15, 2015

15 January 2015
see you in Queens on Sunday! 


Gardens at Risk
NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) put out a list of sites housing developers can apply to build on yesterday. At least 15 of them are currently active community gardens. If you are gardening on HPD property, we recommend you check the list. If your garden is on it and you'd like some guidance, contact us: organizers@596acres.org.

Reviewing Renewal at the Queens Museum
We had a fantastic Reviewing Renewal opening event last Sunday, including a guided walk through an active Urban Renewal Plan Area: Willet's Point. There is coverage of that journey and photos in Curbed. Please join us this Sunday - there will awesome, free programming all day:

  • 12-2pm - The Law of Takings (Eminent Domain), discussion & class in the second floor theater with Michael Rikon, Esq. & Paula Z. Segal, Esq. All are welcome to come learn about the limits of government's ability to take private property for "public purpose." RSVP on facebook here and details here. Attorneys should RSVP here to get Continuing Legal Education credits. 
  • 2-4pm - Reviewing Mitchell-Lama: The Past, Present and Future of Affordable Housing in New York City, panel discussion in the Unisphere Gallery rganized by the NYC Planner's Network. RSVP here and details here.  
  • 4-6pm - It Took 50 Years: Frances Goldin and the Struggle for Cooper Square film preview and discussion with the Cooper Square Committee, filmmakers & Picture the Homeless. RSVP here and details here

Reviewing Renewal includes markers for all of the urban renewal plans that the City has ever adopted as an intervention directly on the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum. We have brought the online Urban Reviewer map to life at a 1:1200 scale of on the 9,335 square foot Panorama! This exhibit runs through February 8th, 2015 with talks, readings, discussions, and film showings happening every Sunday! For more information on the exhibit and programming details, click here. We have also published a map: the first updated atlas of all the urban renewal plan areas in NYC since the City's own 1984 publication. Come get yours at the museum while they last!  

SAVE THE DATES
We'll be holding a Community Land Access Workshop and 596 Acres General Meeting on Tuesday, February 3rd from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch (10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn) in the Information Commons room. Learn how to tap community resources, use the 596 Acres map and website to engage your neighbors, and plot your next steps to gain access to city land for your community projects. This workshop will also act as a general meeting, where folks from all neighborhoods can share land access success stories and we can troubleshoot any sticky points in the process.

Join Maple Street Community Garden (Maple Street at Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn) as they heading back to Housing Court with Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP as their attorney on Friday, February 6th at 9:30 am in Part 52/Room 603 (the commercial part of housing court) at 141 Livingston Street (at Smith Street) in Brooklyn. RSVP to Tom Afarge at maple3garden@gmail.com so that the gardeners know how many t-shirts to make & bring! Last week in court the judge wanted to know what gardens and gardeners do in the winter.... See below for some of our answers! 

Welcome to Rachel Albetski, our Winter 2015 Intern!

Rachel first became interested in vacant lot use after running a school garden in South Central Los Angeles as an AmeriCorps member. Riding her bike to work everyday, she saw tons of empty lots that were in need of revitalization and was psyched when 596 Acres came to LA. Rachel now works as an interior designer in Brooklyn and spends her free time advocating for infrastructure improvements with the organization Transportation Alternatives. An all around urbanist with a passion for environmental justice, Rachel is excited to help communities gain access to land and support the creation of green spaces. 

NEWS FROM THE ACRES
Dongan Hills, Staten Island - Blake is looking forward to starting a garden on two lots that straddle Buel Avenue and Dongan Hills Avenue. She's heading to the next Staten Island Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting today, January 15th at 7:30 pm in the Lou Caravone Community Service Building (located on the grounds of Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home, 460 Brielle Avenue between Walcott and Rockland Avenues) to present her proposal for the space! Contact Blake at 917-403-3659 or notasissy88@yahoo.com.

Rockaway, Queens - Neighbors are organizing to create a community-run concession on this Housing Preservation and Development spot by the Beach 59th Street subway station that used to have a newsstand on it. Get in touch with Alexis if you want to help: alexissmallwood83@gmail.com.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - Organizer James Richards is just getting started galvanizing a group and a vision for a future garden in this Seigel Street HPD lot. It's not one of the ones that HPD has targeted for development; it's likely to sit empty for another long while unless neighbors get together and transform it. Become an organizer yourself or contact James directly: 3472620572 or Heiho1@mac.com.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - Neighbors shaping the future of this lot that was recently transferred to the Parks Department are preparing their visions of what kind of park they would like to see. Do you live close to Bushwick Avenue and Beaver Street? Connect with the group by becoming an organizer on the lot's page or contacting any of the organizers listed there

North Bronx - You've been labelled! The romantic lot in the photo above is on Eden Terrace, as is this great corner lot. Are you close by? Get in touch and let's get organizing: Mary at (718) 316-6092 x3. 

COLLABORATORS
The Department of Sanitation is now accepting applications for its 2015 Master Composter Certificate Course. Sign up to learn how to make precious soil from NYC's waste. Classes are held at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island. The application is here and is due February 20, 2015. 

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us at email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Grant deadline approaching!
Citizens Committee of New York City 2015 Neighborhood Grants are due January 26th, 2015! Contact grants@citizensnyc.org or call 212-822-9563 with questions.

Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund grant applications are due February 1, 2015. The Partnership makes small grants of up to $5,000 to strengthen the outreach, membership, and program-planning capacity of groups caring for NYC Parks Department property in all five boroughs of New York City.

yours,
596 Acres