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News From the Acres - March 26, 2015

26 March 2015
help shape our city's future!
MAPLE STREET IN COURT
Join Maple Street Community Garden (at Maple Street at Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn) as they head back to Housing Court with Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP as their attorney this Wednesday, April 1st at 11 am in Part 52/Room 603 (the commercial part of housing court) at 141 Livingston Street (at Smith Street) in Brooklyn. Shoot an email to tomlafarge@gmail.com if you'd like to wear a Maple Street tshirt to show your support!A big crowd could make a big difference! See you there!

HELP SHAPE OUR CITY'S FUTURE!
The Mayor's Office of Sustainability is actively seeking input for the next PlaNYC strategic planning document. This means they are asking us to suggest ways we can make NYC better. Fill out the survey (available in several languages) to voice your ideas!Need suggestions?
- Ask the city to improve the processes for community access to public land as temporary and permanent open space; include a strong suggestion that community input be required any time public land is sold to private entities.
- Require all developers who build on public land to build with publicly accessible open spaces as part of their designs, including roof gardens that neighbors can reach using dedicated external stairs or a publicly accessible elevator. 
- Fund infrastructure for community gardens on Parks Department land, including solar panels and rainwater catchment.
- Preserve all public land for disposition to Community Land Trusts and other not for profit organizations.
- Build parks and other community amenities in neighborhoods planned for up-zoning before the up-zoning.

HPD GARDENS AT RISK
On January 26th Council Member Antonio Reynoso sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation, asking to have EL Garden (120 Jefferson Street between Evergreen and Central Avenues, Brooklyn) and the other seventeen active community gardens on the Housing Preservation and Development Request for Qualifications listinviting developers to propose to build housing on these same sites removed from the list. Yesterday, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia responded - take a read at her letter!

ON THE ROAD
Paula Z. Segal, the executive director of 596 Acres, is in Montreal, Canada! Today, Thursday, March 26th she is speaking at Civic Engagement through Open Government Initiatives at Smart Cities Montreal, a 3 day program that gathers public administrators and international experts to discuss the future of cities. This weekend, March 28th and 29thshe'll be speaking at the 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Association of Landscape Architects: Degeneration / Regeneration on The Right to the City: One Vacant Lot at a Time.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Neighbors organizing around the corner lot at 375 South 5th at Hooper Street have planned a clean-up day this Saturday, March 28th at 11 am! They're ready to tidy up the space and meet neighbors who want to help advocate that this City-owned land be open to the public! Can you help out? Do you know a garden who can led out some basic tools for the day? Email Tiffany at tiffanyfrances.ny@gmail.com.

East New York, Brookln - At GreenThumb's GrowTogether Conference last Saturday, Mary (the 596 Acres staff organizer pictured tabling at the top of this newsletter!) met Sahir, an East New York resident who wants to turn the large, unfenced space at the corner of Autumn Lane and Hemlock Street into some type of park. Emailmary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 to get connected to Sahir.

Astoria, Queens - A group of neighbors is interested in starting a community growing space on the unused land next to the the Elmjack Little League Field (just East of the bridge to Riker's Island), who have had a license to use this City-owned space since the 1960's. The group has been working on a draft letter to propose their idea to the League's board. Do you know someone who participate in the League? Want to get involved? Click the "organize" button on the lot's page and enter your contact info, or reach out to Val atvalentinmos@aol.com or 347-327-8894.

Lots with Access
Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens (at the corner of East 18th Street and Church Avenue) is having its first workday! After two and a half years of work with 596 Acres, the group of neighbors has a signed lease with the MTA, approved liability insurance through the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, and can get to work transforming the space! On Saturday, March 28th around from 12 pm to 4 pm show up to lend a hand. Tool and supplies provided! Call Anne at 503-866-7195 or email qgardensinfo@gmail.com for more information.

Long Island City, Queens - Starting at 1 pm this Saturday, March 28th, head over toSmiling Hogshead Ranch's Hoedown Heyday, at Flux Factory (39-31 29th Street between 39th and 40th Avenues). It'll be a full day of skillshares, film showings, music, and artist talks from Hogshead members and supporters. At 7:30 pm a community potluck featuring a conversations with the Point-A Project will kick off, followed by a dance party into the evening. For the dinner, seating is limited, so please RSVP toSmilingHogsheadRanch@gmail.com.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - EL Gardin is hosting a New York Restoration Project Tree Giveawaythis S
unday, March 29th from 10 am to 12 pm. Click here to sign up to pick up a free tree!

COLLABORATORS
After five years of searching, the Libertad Urban Farm has a home at 972 Simpson Street between East 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue in the South Bronx! Celebrate and help them tidy up their new space by heading over to their Spring Workday this Saturday, March 28th from noon to 2 pm to help plant tree, build beds, and lay mulch! Shoot an email to info@theblkprojek.org or call 718-635-0951to let them know you'll be helping out!

Artfully Unforgotten is a non-profit arts organization that uses art and creativity as a tool to raise awareness and engage communities in environmental issues. Their main project, DIG IN ART, is an arts-based program that bring fun and educational art workshops into communities. There are no age limits for participants, and workshops can be adapted for people with disabilities! They're currently searching for spaces where they could host their workshops this Spring. If you're in a garden that would like to host a Dig-in-Art workshop, contact alda@artfullyunforgotten.org.
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 an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Citizens Committee of New York's Composting Grant is back! Grants of up to $750 are awarded to community groups working to start or expand upon a composting neighborhood composting program. Click here to learn how to apply! The deadline is TOMORROW, Friday, March 27th!

Free raised beds?

We got an email from a woman in Brooklyn who is giving away four sturdy hand-built raised beds (3'x6'x11") and eight gently used EarthBox sub-irrigated planters (14"x29"x11"), plus a grab bag of other garden stuff! Interested? Potential takers can email madgelma@hotmail.com to arrange a pick up in the Columbia Waterfront Districttomorrow, Friday, March 27th or this Saturday, March 28th.

Free materials and plants?
A Small Green Patch is being forced to leaved their site at 348 Bergen Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Stop by this Saturday, March 28th between 10 am and 5 pm to pick up plants and gardening materials.

GREEN JOBS
The NYC Compost Project is looking for a new citywide NYC Compost Project Manager! The candidate’s primary role will be to guide and direct NYC Compost Project programs at seven external host sites, acting as the primary liaison between the Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability and NYC Compost Project host sites. To learn more, got to the NYC Careers Website, scroll all the way down the page to the search field and in the Civil Service Title search field enter Community Coordinator. The deadline to apply is April 2nd.

Build It Green! is looking for a Program Manager for the NYC Compost Project site they host! They're seeking someone with a passion for composting, waste management, and urban ecology! Click here to learn more.

The Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm is looking is looking for an Urban Farm Manager! This role involves managing the farm, coordinating volunteers, record keeping, conducting events and more! Click here for more info and to apply.

The Department of Youth and Community Development's COMPASS Program (a City-wide after school initiative) at P.S 329 Surfside Elementary in Coney Island has an opening for a part-time garden instructor to facilitate classroom and garden instruction with elementary age students. The garden instructor must be able to foster creativity, engage students foster curiosity and connect with the community, as well as work well with staff to maintain a team environment. Click here to learn more!

yours,
596 Acres

Sanitation Commissioner Responds to Council Member Reynoso on Disposition of HPD Land Developed as Gardens and Compost Sites

26 March 2015

On January 26, 2015, Council Member Antonio Reynoso 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. Yesterday, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia responded: 

"It is my understanding that the lots identified in the RFQ are not deemed final sites approved for development. At this stage NYC HPD is in an exploratory phase of screening... but none of these sites are being offered for sale." 

You can read her letter here

 

 

News From the Acres - March 19, 2015

21 March 2015
intern with us!

GROWTOGETHER THIS SATURDAY!
If you missed us last Saturday at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Making Brooklyn Bloom, don't worry! You can head to the 21st Annual GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference this Saturday, March 21st at Hostos Community College (450 Grand Concourse at East 149th Street, Bronx). 596 Acres organizer Mary Elizabeth Prall will be tabling from 9 am to 3 pm and hosting a land access workshop from 11:30 am to 12:45pm (the first session of workshops). The workshop will host gardeners from 61 Franklin Community GardenElectric Ladybug Garden, and the future Eden Learning GardenWe are also still looking for a volunteer to help us table! If you'd like to 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, click the link above.

CAN'T MAKE IT THIS WEEKEND?
On Tuesday, March 24th from 6 pm to 8 pm 596 Acres organizer Mary Elizabeth Prall will be giving a presentation, Community Land Access – Transformation through Technology, hosted by the Henry George School of Social Science at the John Haynes Holmes Community House (28 East 35th Street between Madison & Park Avenues). You can reserve a place at this free event by clicking here!

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. We'd love to have someone who speaks Spanish! Click herefor more information and how to apply. Application due by 5:59p.m. TOMORROW Friday, March 20th.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Rockaway, Queens - Neighbors organizing around the future Edgemere Coalition Garden (at the corner of Beach 43rd and Beach Channel Drive) are on the agenda for Queens Community Board 14's Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 24th at 7 pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall (333 Beach 90th Street near Beach Channel Drive). Community Board 14 already formally supports this new garden. On Tuesday, organizers will be asking the board to request Mayor De Blasio reconsider Housing Preservation and Development's never-reviewed policy of no longer creating gardens with licenses through GreenThumb. This shift in HPD policy will insure that the lot these Rockaway organizers have been planning to grow in will remain vacant for many more years. The policy, if not altered, will keep many groups around the City from gaining access to the lots in their lives. Call Alexis at 347-606-9925 or email her at alexissmallwood@yahoo.com if you can support them by coming on Tuesday!

Harlem, Manhattan - Join Tamika, a Harlem resident, and Mary from 596 Acres on Saturday, March 28th as they go door to door in search of more supporters for a garden at 109 West 126th Street(between Lennox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard) to present to Manhattan Community Board 10. Want to come along? Know of a school or organization close by that might want to support the project? Contact Tamika at 126streetcommunitygardenapiary@gmail.com or 845-380-4050 or contact Mary at mary@596acres.org or 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Flushing, Queens - There's a cozy lot nestled between blocks where the West end of 52nd Avenue almost hits 72nd Place. Do you live in the area? Have any ideas? Contact Mary atmary@596acres.org or 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Lots with Access
Lower East Side, Manhattan - This Saturday, March 21st from 2 pm to 5 pm, Siempre Verde Garden (at Stanton Streets between Attorney and Clinton Streets) is hosting Poetry Romp for Pedro and Poetry, Public Space and Community to celebrate the poetry of Pedro Pietri, the Nuyorican poet, playwright, founder of the Nuyorican Movement. This romp will kick off at Siempre Verde Garden, meander to Le Petit Versailles, and then wrap up at El Jardin del Paraiso. Join the Facebook event here!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - This Sunday, March 22nd from 4 pm to 6 pm Keap Fourth Community Garden (the corner of Keap and South 4th Streets) is meeting to clean up, spread mulch and plant some peas. This is also a chance to sign up to be a member of the garden! Head on over!

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens (at the corner of East 18th Street and Church Avenue) is having its first workday! After two and a half years of work with 596 Acres, the group of neighbors has a signed lease with the MTA, approved liability insurance through the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, and can get to work transforming the space! On Saturday, March 28th around from 12 pm to 4 pm show up to lend a hand. Tool and supplies provided! Call Anne at 503-866-7195 or emailqgardensinfo@gmail.com for more information.

COLLABORATORS
You are invited to help plan NYCommons, an emerging citywide coalition to influence policy making around how the city deals with its public assets like parks, libraries, community gardens, and other publicly held spaces. Be a part of protecting all our common spaces by joining an upcoming meeting:TONIGHT, Thursday, March 19th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Flushing Library (41-17 Main Street, in Rooms A-B Lower Level) in Flushing, Queens; or Tuesday, March 24th, from 10 am to 12 pm at Hostos College (450 Grand Concourse, in C Building, on the 3rd floor, at the back of the cafeteria), in The Bronx. For more information, please contact Lauren George at (212) 691-6425 orlgeorge@commoncause.org.

Join the New York City Community Garden Coalition TONIGHT, March 19th for its monthly general meeting, which will include board elections and a celebration in honor of some departing leaders. If you're a member of the coalition, you are eligible to vote in this election so please go and exercise your right! Head over to the Neighborhood Preservation Center (232 East 11th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues) in Manhattan from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

Artfully Unforgotten is a non-profit arts organization that uses art and creativity as a tool to raise awareness and engage communities in environmental issues. Their main project, DIG IN ART, is an arts-based program that bring fun and educational art workshops into communities. There are no age limits for participants, and workshops can be adapted for people with disabilities! They're currently searching for spaces where they could host their workshops this Spring. If you're in a garden that would like to host a Dig-in-Art workshop, contact alda@artfullyunforgotten.org.

 
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 an email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Citizens Committee of New York's Composting Grant is back! Grants of up to $750 are awarded to community groups working to start or expand upon a composting neighborhood composting program.Click here to learn how to apply! The deadline is March 27th!

yours,
596 Acres 

News From the Acres - March 12, 2015

12 March 2015

 

see you this weekend!

SEE YOU THIS WEEKEND!
This Saturday, March 14th 
596 Acres will be tabling at the 34th Annual Making Brooklyn Bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden from 10 am to 3 pm. It's a full day of workshops, talks and activities centered around growing! Stop by our table to say hi to our awesome volunteers Rachel (that's her above!) and Ashley, and pick up a few copies of A New York City Advocate's Guide to Land Access to share with friends and neighbors!

This Sunday, March 15th 596 Acres will be participating in the Just Food Conferencefrom 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 duringWorkshop 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 sold out, but you can stay updated with the event virtually by following @justfood on Twitter.

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. We'd love to have someone who speaks Spanish! Click here for more information and how to apply.Application due by 5:59p.m. on Friday, March 20th.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn - On Tuesday, 596 Acres met with students from PS 146/Brooklyn New School's Green & Government Club to discuss transforming the Department of Transportation's triangular, paved property that sits between their school, the footbridge across the Gowanus Expressway, and Hamilton Avenue. Their vision is to grow native plants and provide a space that the general public and classmates from adjoining middle and high schools can enjoy. The space would also be a warm welcome to those crossing the food bridge across the expressway from Red Hook. The club is working on writing a letter to Mayor DiBlasio and the DOT, and collecting signatures from students, the PTA, and neighbors. If you'd like to help, contact the school's sustainability coordinator, Johanna at johanna@bns146.org or 646-808-5595.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Join members of the future Hooper Street Park (375 South 5th at Hooper Street) for a clean-up day on Saturday, March 28th at 11 am! The group submitted an application to GreenThumb a few weeks ago and are anxiously waiting to hear back. In the meantime, they're ready to tidy up the space and meet future members! Can you help out? Do you know a garden who can led out some basic tools for the day? Email Tiffany at tiffanyfrances.ny@gmail.com.

Harlem, Manhattan - Neighbors have crafted a proposal to create a garden and performance space at 174 East 108th Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues) and are working on getting the community board to support the project. Members of a peer leadership program at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center want to get involved, too! Do you live in the neighborhood and want to help this group win the support of their local board? Contact Mary at mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Ridgewood, Queens - Between Mafera Park, Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, and Christ the King Regional High School sits a triangular piece of land on Metropolitan Avenue under the jurisdiction of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. If you have ideas for how this space can be used for a neighborhood benefit, contact mary@596acres.orgor call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Lots with Access
Harlem, Manhattan - Are you a Harlem resident living on the west side? St. Nicholas Miracle Garden (330 St. Nicholas Avenue between West 126th and West 127th Street) could use some new members! Check out their website to learn more about the garden and how to join! Remember: you can drop off your compost at the garden every Sunday starting this Sunday, March 15th from 3 pm to 4 pm!

Lower East Side, Manhattan - On Saturday, March 21st from 2 pm to 5 pm, Siempre Verde Garden (at Stanton Streets between Attorney and Clinton Streets) is hosting Poetry Romp for Pedro and Poetry, Public Space and Community to celebrate the poetry of Pedro Pietri, the Nuyorican poet, playwright, founder of the Nuyorican Movement. This romp will kick off at Siempre Verde Garden, meander to Le Petit Versailles, and then wrap up at El Jardin del Paraiso. Join the Facebook event here!

COLLABORATORS
You are invited to help plan NYCommons, an emerging citywide coalition to influence policy making around how the city deals with its public assets like parks, libraries, community gardens, and other publicly held spaces. Be a part of protecting all our common spaces by joining an upcoming meeting: TONIGHT, Thursday, March 12th, 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Urban Justice Center, 123 William Street (16th Floor), Manhattan; or Tuesday, March 17th, 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Harlem YMCA, 180 West 135th Street (Brick Room, 1st floor), Manhattan; or Wednesday, March 18th, 10 am to 12 pm at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, 1368 Fulton Street (Multi-purpose Room), Brooklyn. Stay tuned for more dates!

This Saturday, March 14th head over to ¡Celebra Bushwick! at the Hope Gardens Community Center (422 Central Avenue at Woodbine Street, Brooklyn) from 12 pm to 4 pm. This is an event where diverse community members can interact through music, food, dance performances, art and story-telling. Speakers include the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, Make the Road New York, EcoStation NY, BK Rot, & more! Check outthe Facebook event page for more details.

To follow up ¡Celebra Bushwick!, on Sunday, March 15th, there will be a community discussion at Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave between Melrose and Jefferson Streets, Brooklyn) from 2 pm to 4 pm to discuss the way the Bushwick community is changing, how to further bridge community members and how this might support other efforts to achieve justice, equality, livelihood and sustainable development around the neighborhood.

HAVE A WEEDY OR TRASH-FILLED LOT IN YOUR LIFE?
The Department of Sanitation is responsible for the maintenance of all vacant, publicly-owned lots. If there's one near you that's brimming with weeds or trash, check out our page about how to Request a Lot Cleaning from NYC Sanitation. There's a link to an easy online form to fill out!
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!

Citizens Committee of New York's Composting Grant is back! Grants of up to $750 are awarded to community groups working to start or expand upon a composting neighborhood composting program. Click here to learn how to apply! The deadline is March 27th!

yours,
596 Acres 


Daffodils planted last fall are now making an appearance at Java Street Community Garden in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

News From the Acres - March 5, 2015

06 March 2015
our map has moved!

WELCOME, LIVING LOTS NYC!
Now, the interactive map you all know and love has moved to LivingLotsNYC.org! The map has awesome new features, such as bigger Google map photos, parcel outlines, as the ability to search by community district, and more! Poke around! Test it out! Let us know if anything seems weird.The site was built by our team with graphic design support by Cleis Design. Development was made possible by the Sunlight Foundation OpenGov Grant and legal support is provided by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society CyberLaw Clinic.

And don't worry - 596acres.org will still be there to inform you about important news regarding community land access, events, press, grant opportunities, and more. Links to lots' pages on 596acres.org will redirect you automatically, so don't worry!

NYC REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COOPERATIVE
We've gauging interest in a NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC), where member-owners' investments are used to purchase vacant commercial buildings that will be used by cooperatives and local businesses, as described here. We're pretty excited about exploring this idea because it would give us the power as a community to make sure that organizations doing important work have space to do it - like Bushwick's community-based bottle and can redemption center Sure We Can. The REIC leverages member-owners’ investments to purchase properties. Consistent with the principles and spirit of the cooperative movement, the REIC makes long-term, stabilizing, and transformative investments for the mutual benefit of our members and our community. Interested? Fill out this form! If there's enough interest in a REIC, we will facilitate a process to form a core group and working groups that will carry this initiative forward.

GARDENS AT RISK
Last week 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! You can also check out this article by Commercial Observer that touches on the Commissioner's stance on the issues around the HPD situation.

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. We'd love to have someone who speaks Spanish! Click here for more information and how to apply. Application due by 5:59p.m. on Friday, March 20th.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
East New York, Brooklyn - A neighbor named Celeste contacted us about starting a garden atthe corner of Thatford and Riverdale Avenues. We've been working with other neighbors on this project for awhile, but they could use more involvement to keep the project going. Emailmary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 to get connected to Celeste and other neighbors!

Corona, Queens - Immigrant Movement International and women from their group Mujeres en Movimiento are leading a campaign to turn the space at 4316 111th Street (at the corner of 44th Avenue) into a park or garden space. They're establishing volunteer roles and planning their next steps to get 1000 signatures to open up this space, which has been vacant for over 20 years. Call IMI at 718-424-6502 or email jserrano@queensmuseum.org to get involved!

Jamaica, Queens - There's a triangular piece of land where Bedell Street, Smith Street, and 119th Street meet that is dotted with cute trees and bushes. This might be a great place for pocket park with picnic tables! Contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 to learn how you can get started accessing this space!

Maspeth, Queens - On Laurel Hill Boulevard between 59th Street and 59th Place there's a corner lot up against a huge wall that might be a great spot for holding community meetings or movie showings, or having a gathering space with a mural. Contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 share your ideas for the space, or leave a note on the lot's page!

Lots with Access
Harlem, Manhattan - St. Nicholas Miracle Garden (330 St. Nicholas Avenue between West 126th and West 127th Street) will resume taking community compost starting this month! Head over to the garden every Sunday after March 15th from 3 pm - 4 pm to drop-off your compost.

COLLABORATORS
GreenThumb's Starting Seeds in a Greenhouse or Indoors is this Saturday, March 7th from 1 pm to 3 pm in the Harding Lab Room 110 at the New York Botanical Garden (200 Kazimiroff Boulevard at East 142nd, Bronx). The workshop is free, but you must reserve a space by contacting Bronx Green-Up at (718) 817-8026 or bronxgreenup@nybg.org.

You are invited to help plan NYCommons, an emerging citywide coalition to influence policy making around how the city deals with its public assets like parks, libraries, community gardens, and other publicly held spaces. Be a part of protecting all our common spaces by joining one of these upcoming meetings: Thursday, March 12th, 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Urban Justice Center, 123 William Street (16th Floor), New York, NY 10038; or Tuesday, March 17th, 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Harlem YMCA, 180 West 135th Street (Brick Room, 1st floor), New York, NY 10030; or Wednesday, March 18th, 10 am to 12 pm at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, 1368 Fulton Street (Multi-purpose Rm), Brooklyn, NY.

New York Restoration Project is hosting a tree giveway at the Greenpoint Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (107 Norman Avenue at Leonard Street). Click here to get more information about the requirements around picking up a tree.

NYC Compost Project has a new website! Find out where you can drop off your food scraps, how to volunteer with composting initiatives, and learn more about composting in general.
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!

Citizens Committee of New York's Composting Grant is back! Grants of up to $750 are awarded to community groups working to start or expand upon a composting neighborhood composting program. Click here to learn how to apply! The deadline is March 27th!


yours,
596 Acres

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)