New York, November 29, 2004 (ENS): The city
of New York has been temporarily restrained by a state
Supreme Court judge from selling three plots of land
in the Melrose section of the South Bronx which are
now planted as community gardens - Sunshine Garden,
Family Group Garden, and the Latinos Unidos Garden.
The petitioners in this case, community gardeners and
an organization representing community gardeners, South
Bronx United Gardeners, Inc. (SBUG), represented by
the Urban Justice Center, brought a lawsuit against
the city for its failure to comply with procedures in
the City Charter for disposing of city owned lots.
Judge Eileen Branston, who issued the temporary restraining
order against the sales on November 24, will hear arguments
in the case on Wednesday morning.
The most public housing projects, the South Bronx is
one of the most densely populated sections of New York
City. Area young people suffer from high rates of asthma,
and the rate of green space per person is one of the
lowest in the city.
Sunshine Garden is a working farm - the members are
mostly elderly men who come from different countries
in Latin America, master gardeners with an interest
in growing vegetables and fruit for their community.
There are fig, apple, and peach trees, roses and blueberries.
Family Group Garden is open to several daycare centers,
as well as to students from P.S.29 who garden and build
structures for playing and celebration, and to the Boy
Scouts for picnics, storytelling, and garden workshops.
Latinos Unidos is a family oriented garden across the
street from the Andrew Jackson Housing Development,
an enormous project filled with people who have no access
to other community green space. Founded by Juan Bolanos,
an immigrant from Cuba, who wanted to offer the community
a place to relax and enjoy beauty, this garden is known
for its cookouts and music. It is open for a few hours
after every working day, as well as on Sundays.
The gardeners affected by the city's plans to demolish
the gardens say they are willing to consider alternate
sites in the community for their gardens. The gardeners
have proposed a comprehensive plan, the Homes and Gardens
Plan, that they say would preserve community garden
space and promote more affordable housing than is now
planned by the city.