A discussion of how we can increase the security our local food supply at a time when rising fuel costs, climate change and political turmoil make it particularly vulnerable. As seen through the lens of the Imani Gardens, located at 1680 Pacific Street and 87-91 Schenectady Street.
When we discovered that the vacant lot near Imani I was actually owned by the people, we were overjoyed. We'd been trying to garden at Imani I for several years but due to a large willow tree, the garden got little light. By contrast, the vacant lot at 1680 Pacific was just a few feet from Imani I and had no trees at all!
We asked the elected officials who represent us if we could garden there and were initially told no because it was under the jurisdiction of Housing Preservation and Development. But to our surprise, they offered us a license revokable at will, to use the lot for gardening.
Of course, our mistake was to accept this Faustian bargain, and sure enough just a few short years later, after we had invested over $5,000 in adding planting beds, a water storage tank and a beautiful greenhouse, our 60 plus past or present members are about to be evicted. Why this lot was given to HPD, and not Parks, is a mystery. It's a small corner lot just 30 ' x 87 ', across from the Weeksville Houses, down the street from a large Sanitation garage and a block from the LIRR elevated train line. It's the only garden in a 20 block radius so if you want to garden in the area, we're it. It's noisy and has been vacant for over 30 years. If there was ever a house on the site, it was a long time ago, and it's probably been vacant for good reasons.
But rather than fight City Hall, we took the bait and ran.
The deadline for developers to respond to the City's request for proposals is February 19th. We have up until then to pursuade the City to remove our garden from the list.
Any help would be appreciated.