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.”