This official statement was delivered by NYCCGC Board Member Haja Worley
at a press conference convened by the Parks Department on 9/13/10.
The New York City Community Garden Coalition [NYCCGC] was founded in 1996 as a direct response to community gardens being sold, developed, and destroyed. Since then we have worked tirelessly to demand truth and accountability from those groups and persons who have direct control over the status of community gardens.
Every year at our Community Gardeners’ Forum, we have asked the question: “When will community gardens be made permanent? When will community gardens be included in the discussion of sustainable urban planning –and not be threatened by bulldozers?”
The NYCCGC never stopped seeking the answer to these questions until finally we were heard. Over the past several years we have been meeting with elected officials and greening groups to find ways that will preserve and protect our community gardens and create more for the future.
Recently the City announced plans to implement rules and regulations which will govern the way NYC community gardens are run—rules set to replace the New York State Attorney General’s 2002 Memorandum of Agreement, which expires September 17, 2010.
The Coalition made it our business to be at the table to discuss these rules, so that no decisions would be made without the voices of the thousands of New Yorkers who benefit from our City’s gardens being heard first.
So we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, meeting with Speaker Quinn and Councilwoman Viverito's staff, the Parks Department, and, eventually, representatives from the Mayor's Office. We wanted to make sure that the language in the new rules clearly state that community gardens will be preserved, protected, and that new community gardens could be created.
We received a copy of the new Rules late last Friday. From some of the feedback we have gotten so far we know we are moving in the right direction. Many of the changes that the Coalition and its allies advocated for are included in the Rules. However, until our Board of Directors, membership, and lawyers have had time to thoroughly analyze the new Rules, we cannot make an official comment on them.
We would nonetheless like to take this opportunity to thank Speaker Quinn and Councilwoman Viverito on behalf of the community gardens and gardeners for their continued support. We also acknowledge the efforts of the Parks Department for seeing that we were included in the discussions.
We also wish to thank the Mayor's office for listening: Changes have been made. Greening groups, community gardeners, and their supporters have been heard.
New York City Community Garden Coalition and its allies will persevere in our work towards the permanent preservation of all community gardens through local and state legislation.
We invite all concerned to join in the ongoing discussion at a NYCCGC Town Hall Meeting scheduled for Saturday, October 2, 2010, at the New School.
As one of the greatest cities in the world, let New York City lead the way in urban agriculture. Community gardening and urban agriculture is not for today only, but for future generations to have the right and access to grow food, flowers, and healthier, greener communities.
Let us continue to work together toward this goal.
– New York City Community Garden Coalition