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Dear Elaine:

I volunteer in the Clinton Community Garden ( "CCG") on W. 48th Street in 
Manhattan. A Community garden under the aegis of the NY Parks Dept ( we were 
the first to be transferred to Parks in 1983)  we occupy a 100 X 150 foot mid 
block plot of land between 9th & 10th Avenues. We serve an area between West 
34th St. & West 59th St. Between the west side of 8th Avenue and the Hudson 
River. A locked garden, we have over 2,000 keys to our park -like formal  
front garden. In the rear portion of the CCG we have 108 individual raised 
beds ( about the size of queen size mattress each) which are distributed via 
wait drawn from the pool of garden key holders. Please check our website 
 <A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/">Clinton Community Garden</A>
 for details on our mode of governance, etc. If you want to get in touch with 
out garden's steering committee members, gardeners, want a tour please 
contact me via email.
Your questions:

1) For example, if only two tenants are running a garden and only those two 
are allowed entrance, is it a community garden? 

No. A community garden is run by community members for the benefit 
ofcommunity. Otherwise it is a private garden, or squatters calling a space a 
community garden. As an empty lot, it falls into the hands of citizens in a 
kind of defacto "eminent domain" It  then requires neighborhood support and 
political action to legitimize it. Community gardening is 50% gardening and 
100% political action. 

2) Would you call a community garden a public space?  In some ways, it seems 
like no.

Urban community gardens are public space. The fences and keys are to protect 
the garden from vandalism, theft, use as a toilet. The Clinton Community 
Garden (in a recent Environmental Impact Study done as part of  the 
developer's Universal Land Use Review Proposal ( "ULURP") for the "Studio 
City" project proposed for 10th Ave. & 44-45th St.) was defined as 
"excellent, heavily used, public space." Few other park spaces made the cut 
as "good". Community gardens are by definition "community gardens" of and not 
separate from the communities they serve.

However this is a special use public space, like a baseball field is a space 
dedicated to baseball, a community garden is a green space designed as a 
public garden & or a space for neighbor hood resident to raise food and 
flowers in. As there are rules for behavior in a public library, there are 
rules for the use of a community garden ( ie no drugs, destruction of 
property, theft, etc.)

  3) Many gardens have individual plots and no communal plots.  Access may be 
limited to only those who live in the neighborhood.   Why are lockable gates 
such an ubiquitous characteristicof gardens.  What do you think?

The public space/individual plot combination of the Clinton Community Garden 
is in my opinion close to ideal. This grew out of the way the garden 
developed. Once the larger community got involved and desired that wonder-of 
-wonders: a broken glass, crack vial, and dog crap free,  peaceful lawn 
spacewith benches, circular brick paths, herb garden, and decorative flower 
beds - it got it. We work hard on maintaining a place for weddings, 
gatherings and reflection.

4) Another question I had was how gardens are designed.   There's more
media about how they get torn down than how they got started.  Do
gardeners hold a design competition or is there one person who usually
calls the shots? 

We started with a few talented gardeners, folks who began to reclaim an empty 
garbage strewn lot and turned it into beauty. Ideally, it's like that kid's 
book, "Stone Soup" where everyone eventually joins in and works to create 
something of beauty.  It's an incremental process. Today, we a Landscape and 
Design committee as part of our garden Steering Committee. We vote on 
projects - as artists in dirt parliamentary procedure it keeps us from 
whacking each other with trowels or worse

5)  Do any gardens have design standards that later gardeners have to abide 

It depends on how formal a garden gets. We have formalist ideas in out front 
public area that usually are approved by the Landscape & Design  and 
Volunteer committees in grueling meetings. Generally the most expert 
gardeners do the front public area beds as a public service. 

For our individual plots in the back garden, see our garden rules on the CCG 
link above. We encourage composting, organic gardening, no trees ( the root 
systems are too invasive for our small beds) and legal plants ( cannabis 
sativa is verboten.) We're cool, though: we may cringe, but if somebody wants 
a pink flamingo, we have no rules against it.

We have our garden rules in English, Spanish and Arabic.

Best wishes, let me know if you need to know more,
Adam Honigman
Clinton Community Garden

community_garden maillist  -  community_garden@mallorn.com

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