This is the time of year that it seems like everyone has a list of top tens of everything and there are plenty of year in review stories. Here is my index of the year of the Community Gardening Blog. As I think back on 2011, I realize that a lot happened in the community gardening world, even more than I realized. Maybe that is why I haven't blogged as frequently as I would have liked; I was busy doing things. There were a number of events starting with the New Jersey Community Gardening Symposium at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum but also including the annual spring events, Making Brooklyn Bloom and the GreenThumb GrowTogether as well as the ACGA conference held in New York City this past summer.
There was a lot of discussion and a lot written about plans and policies for community gardens and urban agriculture. In New York City we had a new "Rule" which passes for policy in this complicated city but of course isn't. So far there have not been any tests to see whether the Rule is strong protection for the gardens or not or what changes can be added to make it stronger. If this was a blog predicting what will happen in 2012, I would say that we will hear a lot more about this Rule. I can guarantee that you will hear and read more from me about policies in 2012.
With all of the talk of spending cuts coming from Washington and Albany there was on again and off again threat, worry and angst about whether the GreenThumb program will be cut a little, a lot or drastically. Nothing has happened yet although at this time it seems the cuts may just be a little. One of our wishes for 2012 is for more funds instead of cuts for GreenThumb. If only we has better news to report about the New York State Community Gardening Program. The coordinator left at the end of the summer for a new (not state) position and no one there answers the phone or replies to voice messages. The future for that program does not look so rosy.
We may have to include the New York State Community Gardening Program among those we have lost this year. We also marked the 25th anniversary of the loss of Adam Purple's Garden of Eden which was the first community garden loss that made headlines. Another of the wishes for 2012 is that there won't be any community garden losses in 2012 but rather a lot of new gardens about which I can report. An updated survey of community gardens will be released this year which should show increased numbers of community gardens in most cities from 1998 when the last survey was released. I know there will be a local conference 'Grow to Give' in Staten Island on January 21st to encourage more community gardens on Staten Island and to make the connections between volunteers, land and resources with the hope of growing more produce for Staten Island food pantries.
A number of 2011 posts were devoted to my early years in community gardening traced through the creation of the 6BC Community Garden. That is something that I have been wanting to write about for many years and I am happy that I had the opportunity to share with you. I hope there will be more to add to the story in 2012, both stories from the past and new stories to come.
It was great to visit Compost for Brooklyn and add Community Compost Garden to the list of possibilities for community gardening. The Occupy Wall Street Movement inspired moving the Bicycle Water Pump from a germ of an idea to a working model. There will be pictures of these pumpers to show in a number of community gardens this season. Compost for Brooklyn needs a human powered leaf shredder. I wonder how that will work?? In addition to the Bicycle Water Pump, Occupy Wall Street also helped to show the world about the importance of process and developing a political and social structure that is inclusive. It reaffirms what I have written about the sustainability of community gardens being as dependent on the social sustainability of the garden group as it is on the physical space.
Not quite your traditional index, year in review, new year predictions or memorials but all rolled into one with the good news and bad and the hopes and dreams for next year which is only 2 days away. There are many reasons to believe that 2012 will be full of accomplishments and forward movement in community gardening and the work we have done this year will be a strong foundation on which to build. Blog with you next year!