I belonged to a community garden as a teenager in Palo Alto and had an allotment in London, so it’s easy for me to see the story behind this story in the New York Times. Things don’t always work perfectly between people, even in the garden. (Remember that the Biblical creation story is set in a garden?) While we start with good intentions and visions of melons and mesclun, other things can interfere–not only weather and weeds but work and domestic pressures. I remember, guiltily, the inconsistent attention I gave to my London plot. So think of the human issues that those devoted to preserving New York’s community gardens face, along with issues of language, and officialdom:
If a group of gardeners does lose its license or walks away from a plot, the neighborhood should be offered an opportunity to keep that garden running. The Parks Department should reach out to the local City Council member, the community board and nearby gardening groups, and allow 180 days for other people to apply to take over the garden.
All notices relating to gardens should be written in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other language the community requests.
In order to encourage new gardens, the city should let the public know when city-owned land becomes vacant and no specific use is envisioned.