Riders on the corn: Cyclists raise alarm about gardens
May 19th, 2010
By Jefferson Siegel
Last Saturday, Time’s Up! held a Garden Bike Ride and Hoedown to raise awareness of an imminent threat to community gardens.
“The 2002 Spitzer garden agreement that temporarily prevented the city from selling our community gardens to developers expires this September,” garden activist Ben Shepard said. “The city has pronounced its intent to have free license to transfer these precious green spaces to developers.”
The agreement grew out of a lawsuit to save the gardens filed by then state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The agreement is set to expire later this year.
The 2002 agreement preserved some 500 community gardens throughout the city. Three years earlier, more than 100 other gardens were saved when purchased by two nonprofit groups, the Trust for Public Land and the New York Restoration Project.
After a two-hour bike ride to several gardens throughout the East Village and Lower East Side, there was an after-party at the Dias y Flores Community Garden on E. 13th St., where cyclists dressed as vegetables mingled with locals as music played.
A singalong, “This Garden Is Your Garden,” to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land,” included the verses: “As I went walking / To the Sixth St. Garden / I saw above me an endless condo / I saw below me / A giant tomato / He said, ‘These Gardens are made for you and me.’”
“This year we’re asking you to make some noise, defend and celebrate the monumental achievement of the community gardens,” said actor and playwright Monica Hunken.
Last fall, two Dias y Flores members, Everett Hill and Charles Molloy, told The Villager how East Village green thumbs were making a determined effort to keep the garden open through the brisk weather — and keeping a visitors log — to show the Parks Department that the garden was being used, so that it wouldn’t be taken away for development.
With reporting by Lincoln Anderson