The Daily News article began by quoting Joni Mitchell’s lyrics, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” When it was published October 9th the garden’s ill fate seemed like a done deal. Twenty new parking spaces would replace the twelve year old community garden. Or so they thought.
One week after the article was published, the college’s new President Karen L. Gould called a meeting to negotiate with a few selected gardeners and students who had been petitioning and organizing around the preservation of this green space. Much to their surprise, the President and other administrative persons listened to their concerns and even made an offer to alter their previous construction plan. The new plan, which senior Brooklyn College student Devika Nandlall called a “workable solution,” would preserve about half of the current and original garden space. It would also ensure a constant water supply source which the gardeners do not have easy access to currently.
This is a “win- win situation,” said 75 year old founder of the garden Toby Sanchez who, prior to the meeting, was outraged by the idea of paving over more than thirty six vegetable, flower, shrub, tree, and herb varieties thriving on the 6,000 sq foot plot of land on Brooklyn College’s Campus. Even though she always knew the gardeners’ use of this space was temporary, she had not imagined that parking would be the reason behind the demolition. In fact it would have demonstrated a “lack of imagination on the administration’s part,” said newbie gardener and full-time novel writer, Allison Kinney, to have gone ahead with the original construction plan without exploring alternatives as they did this past Thursday.
While the gardeners still need to come to a consensus about accepting the President’s alternative offer, last week’s meeting certainly set a more positive tone around the issue. To express your concerns or general thoughts on community gardens, particularly in urban settings, please comment on this blog entry.
To read related articles about community gardens on a more national level check out NY Times article on how one Michigan community is redefining itself through gardening. And here, first lady Michelle Obama talks about eating locally and expresses praise for community gardens.