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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Imani 2
Posted by on in Imani

On Saturday October 17th at 1 PM, Guy D'Angelo, an organic farmer with 20 years experience growing on a 1/4 acre garden in Center Moriches Long Island, will be discussing fall crops and cover cropping at Imani II. Find out what plants you can grow in the fall in this zone and how to prepare your planting beds. Also learn about the advantages of putting a crop on your planting beds that will protect and enhance the soil over the winter. We will provide a demonstration of how to start your crop, how to cultivate and harvest it. Learn how you can extend the growing season even further with hoop houses over your growing beds.

Imani Garden II is located at 1680 Pacific Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. It has 13 raised beds, a 350 gallon water storage tank and a year around polycarbonate greenhouse.

To get there by mass transit, take the A/C or 3/4 trains to Utica Avenue. Walk Utica to Pacific Street and then walk west to Schenectady Avenue. Imani is located at the corner of Schenectady and Pacific Street.


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Are you part of the California drought problem?  Every time you buy a bunch of grapes from California, your contributing not only to some grower's bottom line, you're also consuming 24 gallons of California's water.  For details, check out this recent article in the New York Times about the Cali Drought.

Long before Napa and Central Valley become the nation's number one producer of grapes, New York had an established vineyard colony in the Finger Lake region.   While not reaching the levels of fame achieved by Napa, the the Finger Lake region still produces a passable riesling, and the climate is often compared to that of the riesling producing areas of the Rhine valley in Germany.  According to a 2005 study conducted about wine production in New York State, we have 31,000 wine bearing acres in New York and 1,384 farms producing grapes.  

So as the drought bears down, and California's water restrictions start to effect grape prices, you might want to look for a more local source.  We've actually got a nice grape vine growing along the fence at Imani Garden, which will be bearing grapes shortly, that is if Mayor De Blasio doesn't turn the garden into unafforable housing instead.  

IF this upsets, you might consider letting the Mayor know by writing him a letter.  Send us a copy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Every little bit helps.  According to Paula Segal at 596 Acres, the City should be releasing in June the list of developers who've been awarded sites.  Stay tuned to find out if Imani has been awarded to anyone.

In the meanwhile, see you at the local wine bar!


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Posted by on in Imani

On a cold February 10th morning about 100 intrepid gardeners gathered on the steps of City Hall to express their outrage.  It seems that Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the housing arm of New York City, had decided on its own authority to confiscate 17 community gardeners for "affordable housing".  Without any advance warning to the Parks Department that administers community gardens on City land, the affected City Council members or the community boards, on January 14th HPD issued a Request for Proposals asking developers to express interest in developing housing on 181 City-owned lots.  Buried among these 181 lots, among over 1,000 owned by the City, were 17 community gardens.

The response was swift and furious.  Within 24 hours, Antonio Reynoso, a Council Member from Williamsburgh, issued a letter to the mayor asking that all 17 of the gardens be removed from the list.  By the date of the rally, CMs Robert Cornegie, Rosie Mendez and Stephen Levin had also voiced their concern about the manner in which HPD conducted itself.

The question we have to ask ourselves: what role do gardens play in our communities?  Are communities more than just affordable housing?  In fact, the housing being offered by HPD is not even affordable.  Using something called the Area Median Income (AMI), under the RFP terms, only 1/3 of the units need to be affordable, meaning 2/3 of the units won't be affordable.  And HPD's definition of affordable is 80% of the AMI for a family of four.  Given that the AMI (based on regional statistics that include suburban counties) is $88,600, than means that one out of three units must be affordable to a family earning $70,880.  Hello, HPD.  That does not reflect the actual incomes of families in these communities.  These units will be affordable in name only.

Don't let this mindless land grab go unnoticed.  Sign our petition at Stop the land grab.

For more information on this situation, check out New York City Community Garden Coalition website.

Stay tuned for more developments!


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Posted by on in Imani

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.  

Now, we have no choice but to fight the decision to turn our garden into housing.  After a meeting of garden members last night, we will be producing a video featuring garden members and inviting local elementary schools to come by for a visit.  If you'e like to find out how you can help, send us an email at " This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ".

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.


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Posted by on in Imani

Geoff Lawton has developed yet another timely video featuring a greenhouse in British Columbia that's using climate battery technology to heat a large greenhouse.  Interestingly the greenhouse incorporates an insulated mass on the north wall to conserve heat.  In the model we're developing at Imani, we propose to build just this sort of wall made out of earthbags.  The ideas are tantalizing in a time when our reliance on fossil fuels is about to end, one way or another.  Will the end be a horrible disaster because we haven't prepared for it, or a gradual transition based on a carefully thought through plan.  The choice is ours, and yours.

Click here for more information about this exciting geo-solar greenhouse.


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Posted by on in Imani

Beginning two weeks ago, the Nostrand Avenue merchants Tinto, a coffee bar, and Punchline, a juice bar, have begun adding their coffee grounds and juice pulp to Imani Garden.  I'm collecting them on my bike cart every other day, picking up one five gallon bucket from each establishment. 

I carry the material about 15 blocks and deposit it into the "green" compost pile at Imani II.  Soon we'll have a composting workshop where we'll mix these raw "greens" with some raw "browns" along with some biochar and effective microorganisms to create a compost pile.

Watch this blog for specifics.

Many thanks to Punchline and Tinto.  Be sure to patronize them the next time you're on Nostrand Avenue near Park Place in Crown Heights North.



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Posted by on in Imani



It seems that the drought in California is really kicking in.  According to today's New York Times, experts estimate that over 500,000 acres will not be planted in the Central Valley this year.  As you may know, the Central Valley is the single largest source for fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States.  The four most productive agricultural counties in the US are in the Central Valley.  The total agricultural production of the Valley amounted to $17 billion in 2002.  It is the leading source in the US for tomatoes, almonds, grapes, cotton, apricots, and asparagus.

No water has flowed in irrigation canals for three years now at some farms and drilling wells, if one can find a well-driller who isn't booked years in advance, is very expensive.  Without regular rain to replenish the aquifer, it's only a matter of time until the water in the wells dries up as well.

In a February 13th article in the National Geographic, Celeste Cantu, manager of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, states that "the cost of fruits and vegetables could soar" because of the drought.  In the same article, B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied 1,000's of years of drought history, states that "California needs to brace itself for a megadrought—one that could last for 200 years or more."

Because we receive most of our fresh fruits and vegetables from areas such as California, the implications for NYC are clear.  We need to obtain a lot more food independence.   One of the ways we can do this, in addition to relying on local farmers, is to begin growing food on vacant lots. 

With some 596 acres of city land sitting vacant, growing in community gardens is a real possibility.  And because we need to eat year around, we need to grow food year around as well.  Growing fruits and vegetables inexpensively in the winter in the Northeast requires a special kind of greenhouse, one that maximizes the sun as a heat source. 

Several gardens have been developing this capability for years.  One example is at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute at Basalt Colorado.  Jerome Osentowski, their executive director, has been growing semi-tropical plants year around using what he calls a "climate battery" to capture the warmth of the sun.  More well known in the Northeast of course is Eliot Coleman, whose Four Season Farm in Maine is an example of what can be grown year round in a cold climate.

The Imani Garden, at Schenectady and Dean in Crown Heights Brooklyn, is about to build a greenhouse that uses a climate battery and a below grade design that should achieve semi-tropical temperatures throughout the winter with few external inputs.  Working with the architectural firm of SRY Rainbow, Imani and its sponsor Green Phoenix Permaculture with the assistance of Citizens Committee NYC, Project Green Thumb and New York Restoration Project, hopes to begin construction this spring.  By using earthbag construction that incorporates earth from the excavation to build walls on three sides of the greenhouse, construction costs will be kept to a minimum.

If you would like to attend a pre-construction fund raiser to help us raise funds for the construction and view the design for this new greenhouse, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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Posted by on in Imani

 As we New Yorkers endure the worst winter in decades, it's nice to dream of year around gardening.  Imagine a greenhouse you could walk into in February and find lots of green things growing.

Well, dream no more! We've already talked about the Central Rocky Moutain Permaculture Institute near Basalt Colorado that is growing semi tropical fruits at 7,200 feet.

Now here are two more gardeners growing plants in their greenhouses all winter long.  One uses a climate battery to pump warm air from the top of the greenhouse into the soil under the greenhouse.  Another has built an underground greenhouse take advantage of the warmer temperatures below the surface of the soil.

We hope to use both approaches in our new greenhouse at Imani II.  We should have the design completed shortly.

Stay tuned for more soon.


Tagged in: Greenhouse Imani 2
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Posted by on in Imani











A bunch of us took advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday Feb. 2 to replace the frayed plastic on the greenhouse and remove a planting bed.  With the planting bed gone from inside the greenhouse, we'll have more room for benches to place our seeds.  We've purchased 150 peat pots and containers to keep the seeds comfy and moist.


We will be building the new benches next weekend on Feb. 8th and 9th.  If you'd like to get involved, shoot me an email.


Meanwhile Alijan Sethy of the design firm SRY Rainbow is sketching up a new greenhouse for us.  It will incorporate earthbag construction technology, be at least 12 feet high and use internal piping to create what Jerome Ostenkowski calls a "climate battery".  More about what Jerome is up to can be found at his website:


Below are some photos of us at work on Sunday.



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Posted by on in Imani

Here it is up and running the Imani Team Blog. Eventually taking the place of our google group.

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Posted by on in Imani


Check out the new improved website
We now have a blog with regular updates for Imani Garden, our upstate demonstration project near High Falls and other information of interest to permaculturists.
Check it regularly for important updates.  We hope to have a calendar on the site up and running soon, so you don't miss any great events.
Tagged in: Imani 2 Imani I
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