Skip to main content

District 11

Eric Dinowitz

Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Norwood, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield, Woodlawn


BRONX, NY – For years, the James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center (JBOLC) cultivated the space known as Meg’s Garden at the DeWitt Clinton Campus, providing educational opportunities for children and garden space for the community. Recently, JBOLC initiated their community farmers market. In April 2021, DeWitt Clinton Campus chose not to renew JBOLC’s permit to utilize school grounds and announced that JBOLC would no longer work with students or the community. The Campus later indicated that Meg’s garden would “return to original landscaping,” indicating the destruction of the garden.

With the immediate intervention of Council Member Eric Dinowitz, JBOLC regained a permit to utilize the school grounds for their community farmers market during the weekends. Because of the garden’s significance to the students and the community, Council Member Dinowitz ramped up pressure on the Department of Education (DOE) and Clinton Campus to fight to save the program and the garden, and collaborate with JBOLC.

The persistent efforts of Council Member Dinowitz led to the DOE committing to the preservation of the garden and JBOLC’s continued involvement in school and community planning. Through a letter, the DOE stated: “Meg’s Garden space will remain on site and will not be removed,” a move now supported by the Clinton Building Council. As a collaborative measure, a DeWitt Clinton Campus Garden leadership committee consisting of JBOLC, a yet-to-be named Community Based Organization, and members of the Clinton Campus Community, will be installed. This comes on the heels of Council Member Dinowitz’s successful effort to acquire a permit for JBOLC to continue community programming at their Saturday farmers market. 

The committee will meet at the beginning of the school year and will provide an open platform for their members to discuss the future of the space. 

Council Member Dinowitz said, “After months of advocacy, the DOE recognized how essential this space has been and will be for the community and our children. All the meetings that took place over the past months allowed the students and community to speak out about their needs, and defend something that has been so impactful to their lives, particularly during these past 18 months.

I would like to thank the DOE for listening and providing an opportunity for JBOLC to continue the admirable work they’ve done with the garden, our children, and our community. The kind of learning environment that the DOE talks about is one that extends learning outside of the physical boundaries of a classroom, and beyond the confines of a textbook. The preservation of the garden is a testament of their commitment to uphold these values. 

As we wait for the beginning of the meetings between the leadership committee and its members, we hope that these meetings adhere to the promise of meaningful collaboration. I look forward to witnessing the example that this will set for all schools in our City.” 

Ray Pultinas, Founder and Director of JBOLC said, “We want to thank Council Member Eric Dinowitz who worked hard on behalf of the students and the community. With his support we now have a voice in the Garden Advisory Committee which will direct all future decisions regarding the garden spaces. As a Committee we can start to work out regular garden hours, permitting and after school hours, class visits, etc. This will certainly be an asset for us – we will be part of the governing body deciding on garden utilization and we will have people to help. Working together we are confident that the threat of eviction is over and that the garden will remain a space for students and community members alike.”