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[cg] Letter from Mark Francis

April 26, 1999

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

Anne Raver provides a useful review in The New York Times of the history
issues associated with preserving community gardens in New York City. 
As a
professor of environmental psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center in the
1970s, I conducted the first extensive study of community gardens in New
York City.  At that time, the gardens were seen by city officials as
"temporary" uses of vacant land until something better came along.  Of
ten community gardens sites we studied in depth, nine are still
successfully today, over twenty years later.  Since then the number of
gardens throughout the city has increased sharply.  We found the gardens
central to the economic and community development then taking place in
of the Cityıs neighborhoods.   When compared to nearby city parks and
playgrounds, the gardens were rated consistently by residents as safer,
heavily used, and more beautiful.

I would characterize community gardens today as the new American
To sell them off is comparable to selling pieces of Central Park for
"economic development" value.  Cities across the country have
gardens into their park systems and proudly display them as green space
their city maps.  It is disturbing that New York City has chosen to
this nationwide movement to make cities healthier and more livable by
community gardens.

Mark Francis
Professor of Landscape Architecture
University of California, Davis

720 Robin Place
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 7531310

community_garden maillist  -  community_garden@mallorn.com

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