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Talking About Food, NYC & Community Gardens

  • Subject: [cg] Talking About Food, NYC & Community Gardens
  • From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 18:12:45 -0500

Anna & Friends,

On the wall of my apartment in Manhattan is 19th century engraving of the
last of the Lennart farm  estate, on 50th Street & 10th Avenue, two blocks
away from the Clinton Community Garden. It was a nostalgic picture, even in
1860, because the waffle like grid of the city's streets had extended up
through the area. As a community board member, I sometimes see old maps
drawn in the days when they kept the names of the farmers who had orginally
worked and owned the land in the area. Bloomingdale ( after whom they named
the Dept. Store)  had orginally been a dairy farmer. During the ACGA
convention this summer, I'll show you, though you won't believe it, the site
of the farm house where Poe wrote "The Raven" on West 84th Street. 

But I'm meandering... As the city grew, agricultural uses got pushed more
and more to the periphery. We lost the Harlem and Upper Manhattan farms
before the turn of the 19th century. The subway's reach throughout the
Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens ended most agricultural uses by the 1930's ( that
was when the last of the dairy farms in Canarsie, Brooklyn) gave up the
ghost on Flatlands avenue. Rail and later trucks from Long Island, Upstate
and beyond brought in everything. Long Island duck and potato farms are
almost completely gone. A buddy of mine worked for an importer of delicacies
from all over the world called, "Flying Foods" whose transport planes landed
on the converted farmland that became JFK International airport.  

People still look at me in disbelief when I bring Hell's Kitchen grown
tomatoes in to work and tell them that I grew them two blocks away from
Times Square. And yet, I have a picture of the farm that was on the site, so
many years ago, of the community garden that we created on rubble. The
apparent oxymoron of honey harvested 6 blocks away from where they film the
Letterman show really makes some folk's brains hurt.  

You may remember me telling you that  during the days after September 11th,
when trucks were not allowed to come into Manhattan, supplies of bread, milk
and other foodstuffs dangerously dwindled. Manhattan generally has maybe a
couple of day's food on hand at any time. I even bought enough flour and
yeast to bake bread for a week, just in case. Turns out that the day after,
deliveries were allowed in. But friends of mine who are refugees from the
former Yugoslavia told me they did the same thing. We talked about gardening
in the parks in Sarajevo, wondered where the best place to grow food in
Central Park. Old timers still talk of the victory gardens they worked in
during the Hitler war... 

This is a city with over 8 million people, 10,000 empty lots, 500 endangered
community gardens and alot of hungry homeless people.  Just Food, one of our
local CSA groups is trying to sell the idea, and while we do have some food
production in our gardens for soup kitchens, it's nowhere near what it could
be and still have room for thousands of new units of affordable housing.
Most folks probably wouldn't even notice that the gardens and mini-farms
were there, except for the real estate industry.

It really is a major paradigm shift, and I don't really know how to address
it.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman   

______________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden





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