Read the testimony

Today, Speaker Quinn and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito joined the New York Community Garden Coalition and other advocates called for a more permanent protection of the city’s community gardens, which are due to lose their existing protections this September.

Statement from Speaker Quinn:

“The City Council has a long history of working to preserve and protect New York City’s community gardens. These gardens have played and continue to play a critical role in growing healthy food for underserved neighborhoods, maintaining a sense of community, and providing needed open space in our densely populated City. It’s also important to recognize that gardeners are people who cared for their communities and took over abandoned locations when no one else would. Therefore, our ultimate goal is to find a way to make community gardens a permanent part of New York City and end this debate about their future.

Because of this, my Council colleagues and I are committed to working to ensure long term protections, and continuing to find permanent solutions. We will also be holding an oversight hearing this fall in our Parks and Recreation Committee Chaired by Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito.

We see the rules promulgated as a good first step and believe that they create a foundation from which we can negotiate permanent solutions. That said, we do advocate additional changes. Some of our proposed improvements include the guaranteed renewal of a gardening license so long as the gardening group in question remains in good standing. In addition, the rules should incorporate a time period after default has occurred in which the City should work with the surrounding community to see if a new gardening group can take over.

By their very nature, rules are temporary and could be fairly easily repealed by a future Administration, which is why we are working with the Bloomberg Administration and community gardeners to find other ways to provide more permanent protection for the many community gardens throughout New York City.”

Statement from Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Melissa Mark-Viverito:

“Community gardens provide vital open space and sources of fresh produce in neighborhoods across our city,” said Park and Recreation Chair Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I remain very concerned that the proposed rules by the administration do not go far enough to provide the strong protections that our community gardeners deserve. While we will continue to work toward long-term preservation strategies for the gardens, it is my hope that additional language can be added to the current rules that will offer greater security to ensure that our communities do not lose these important spaces to development.”

Statement from former Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Helen D. Foster:

“I am in full support of the excellent proposals and organizing of the New York Community Garden Coalition to guarantee permanent preservation and protection of our gardens. My own 16th C.D. Friends of Parks Council is made up of many community gardeners who provide healthy food, beautiful open space, and teach our young people to be gardeners, The gardeners played an important part in saving the South Bronx when it had been abandoned, by not fleeing and staying in their communities to preserve their homes and gardens for decade after decade. I commend Speaker Quinn and Parks Chair Councilmember Mark-Viverito for their efforts to work toward a permanent solution for the gardens.”