Two terms that should never be included in the same sentence, Community Gardens and Donald Trump. As DT's budget proposals are being released and analysts have had the opportunity to evaluate and understand the fine print in the federal budget, there is a link between the proposed budget and Community Gardens. In New York City, the GreenThumb program is and for 40 years has been funded by federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). By some estimates as much as 43% of GreenThumb's funding comes from CDBG. The budget does not include funding for CDBG.
CDBG funds have been a mechanism for congress and the federal government to allocate funds to communities of all sizes for programs to improve the lives of residents. There are restrictions and formulas about how the funds can be used, they are supposed to be used for areas that fall below a certain income level. This made this type of funding a perfect match for most community gardens in NYC as the gardens were clustered primarily in low income, minority majority neighborhoods. The CDBG eligible neighborhoods change over time as gentrification takes over in a neighborhood but in NYC, the lion's share of community gardens qualified for materials, plants and technical and community organizing advice which helped most gardens thrive and grow.
The CDBG program was championed by Democratic and urban congress members as a way to channel funding to their constituents. Republican representatives have generally opposed this program as adding to bloated government programs. This program and many others that provide support to low income Americans are all targeted for elimination by Republicans. So we cannot just blame DT but he definitely supports the plan to do away with the CDBG program.
What will this mean? Potentially a loss of $1 million or more of support for GreenThumb, the 600 NYC community gardens, 10,000 to 20,000 community gardeners and hundred of thousands of visitors who take part in educational programs, community events or who enjoy the produce, quietude or the environmental benefits of community gardens.
We cannot let this happen.