Food Option: Start Your Own Garden
by Cathy Bussewitz and Aresh Javadi •
Thursday August 29, 2002 at 02:26 PM
Tired of eating genetically engineered food?
Ready to grow your own peaches? The community
garden in your neighborhood may be the answer
to your salad dreams.
If your garden is filled for
the season, reserve a space for next spring.
But if that’s too long to wait for your organic
big apple bites, now is the time to dirty your
hands and plant your own food revolution.
Follow the steps below…your stomach will be
happy you did.
First, find your future garden. Once you’ve
chosen a slice of land, find out who owns it by
calling the New York Public Interest Group, or
visit www.oasisnyc.net for maps. Check on
development plans with your local community
board (www.nyc.gov/html /cau/html/cblist.html).
If you want to play by the rules, talk to the
city’s housing department or GreenThumb.
However, rather than talking to these agencies
right away, you could try the following program.
(1) Free the land. Buy bolt-cutters at the local
hardware store and open the garden gates.
Replace the lock, and make extra copies of the
key for your future fellow gardeners.
(2) Plant the seeds in your community. After
sharing your plan with neighbors, throw a party
to clean out trash and weeds from your new land.
Invite community groups and post fliers to attract
as many people as possible.
(3) Beautify. Organizations like Bronx
Green-up and Brooklyn Botanical Garden can
hook you up with free trees. GreenThumb provides
free plants when you register the garden,
but you must do some planting in order to register.
Mail-order nurseries often offer nice discounts,
but don’t shy away from hitting up local
nurseries for donations.
(4) Start the feeding frenzy. When planting
fruits and vegetables, remember: city soil is
toxic. If you want to test your soil to find out how
bad it is, contact the Enivronmental Protection
Agency or Greenthumb. Using bricks, stones,
2x8 planks or your favorite found objects, build
your large planter. Fill it with clean soil, and
plant your yummies. April is a good time to plant
long-growing varieties like squash, beans, herbs,
watermelon and corn. In the fall, plant onion and
garlic before the first frost. Learn about seedsaving
at www.seedtrust.com. You’re on your
way to better dinners!
(5) Sustain. Post signs telling others when the
garden will be open; invite members to get
involved. Host cook-outs, invite schools to teach
lessons in your garden, donate vegetables to soup
kitchens and grow mullen and echinacea to alleviate
asthma. Invite everyone to sign a petition to
make the garden permanent. Take photos to document
the beauty your garden brings.
(6) Make it legal. Contact your community
board; get on the agenda for their next meeting.
Bring your portfolio, petition, and member lists
to GreenThumb or the Trust for Public Land, and
apply for permanent status. Contact More
Gardens! Coalition (www.moregardens.org) for
its How to Make Your Garden Permanent book.
Enjoy your home-grown garden paradise!