Community Gardens

In 1999 through my association with Time's Up! and Reclaim the Streets I joined the effort to protect and preserve Esperanza Garden and other threatened community gardens. I camped out in the garden regularly throughout the cold winter months to ensure that if there were any efforts to bulldoze the garden there would be resistance. I also was introduced to the idea and shown how to construct so called sleeping dragon and other lock-down devices used for civil disobedience. On February 15, 2000 the bulldozers came and I along with more than 30 others choose to remain in the garden and were ultimately arrested. Ultimately although Esperanza was lost, the movement to preserve community gardens gained support.

The Mars Garden 2000 - In the aftermath of the bulldozing of the beautiful Esperanza Garden on East 7th St. Reverend Billy ended a show at the theater on Bleeker and Lafayette with a raucous procession that culminated with the occupation of what would latter be known as the Mars Garden due to it's proximity to the Mars Bar on 1st St. and 2nd Ave. For much of the Spring and Summer what was once an abandoned a garbage strewn lot literally bloomed.

The space thrived despite harassment by representatives of the city's erroneously named Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) agency. Initially they did things like lock off the garden or weld the door closed but ultimately they escalated things to the point where they had torn up all the plants removed all the tools and covered the space with a foot of gravel. At that point we made the decision to focus our energies on other struggles.

In the winter of 2001-2002 I was partially based in the Melrose neighborhood of the South Bronx where working with others including the More Gardens Coalition I worked to defend the Cabo Rojo Community Garden. Unfortunatly I was not there in the late winter when the wrecking crew cam to destroy years of community efforts.

Thanks to the movement to preserve NYC's community gardens a deal was struck in 2002 to permanently protect the great majority of existing gardens in the city. In 2010 the city indicated that they no longer planned to be true to their word and that they may again be looking to destroy community gardens for the benefit of developers. I and others working with Time's Up! and other garden groups to hold the city to their word, and allow the gardens to be. That I know of no community gardens have been bulldozed since.

I believe in reclaiming space and founding new community gardens and defending them when need be, but I also support and enjoy ones that are protected and have volunteered for gardens in my neighborhood like the Hattie Carthan garden. In addition to that I attempt to be as self sufficient as possible. I have experience with humanure, vermiculture, as well as traditional composting methods. I have been a roof top or backyard gardener since the Summer of 2000 when a number of tomato plant volunteers in their containers of composting humanure were confiscated by police under suspicion that they were marijuana plants. As of late I have been growing a wide variety of tomatoes and tomatillos, basil, peppers, beans and harvesting grapes and mulberries.

At an exhibit about community gardens at the MoRUS (Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space) that includes photos of me protesting the destruction of urban community green space.