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Monday, April 12, 2010

Today I worked with a group of 9th grade students in a gardening class at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers in a garden on the corner of West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The garden has a checkered history.

The original Dome Garden which was located across the street from this replacement garden was one of the first community gardens in New York City that was lost to development and it was seminal in galvanizing community gardeners to organize to prevent such future occurrences.

This all came back to me today as I was pruning a fig tree and a gentleman yelled from the fence, "What are you doing to that tree. I planted it as a small shoot when this garden was moved from across the street." I explained what I was doing. He seemed OK with that but then he added, " You know, I never ate a fig from that tree. By the time it was big enough to bear fruit the school took over the garden." I pointed out the tiny figs already on the tree and told him I hoped he would get to eat some this summer. "We'll see", he said.

That pretty well sums up the tensions in the community over access and use of the garden. The replacement garden turns out was not really what it was promised to be. The story is not finished. Hopefully an arrangement between the school and the community can be worked out to share the garden. Stay tuned.

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