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Re: Scattering Gardens?

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Scattering Gardens?
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 10:57:43 EDT


When some of you visited the Clinton Community Garden last July, you may have 
seen the back rock garden, with it's climbing Kiwi, assorted shade plants and 
black Japanesese grass adjacent to our back patio space. Currently maintained 
and planted by my wife and myself, it was started by a man named Donald, who 
tended it while he was "living with AIDS."  

As Donald sickened before the advent of the HIV drug cocktail, he, like many 
in our garden community died of AIDS.  Hell's Kitchen,  was home, along with 
Chelsea, Greenwich, Harlem and Spanish Harlem, of many gay men and IV drug 
users and had the first dedicated AIDS wards (The Spellman Center) at St. Clare's 
Hospital, where my wife worked as a nurse.  We lost thousands in our 
neighborhood to AIDS at that time. I think sometimes that the reason why NYC was able 
to deal with the attack on the World Trade Center so well was because it had 
been so scourged as an epicenter of the AIDS epidemic and had been schooled in 

During that time, the CCG hosted many, many memorial services for AIDS 
victims,  sometimes the only commemorative event for some of the dead who were 
estranged from their families but were garden friends and for others who for 
whatever reason didn't want a religious service.  And we found priests, ministers 
and rabbis for those who didn't know how to reach out for them.  I remember one 
August where we had 10 memorial services in a week... The Clinton Community 
Garden served the community well in that time of need for so many people.   
Having a young man point his cane at our grape arbor and ask, "could I have my 
service there?" was an experience I will never forget.  Faced with the enormity 
of the epidemic, we all did as much as we could.   

According to NYC health dept regulations, we did not scatter cremated remains 
("cremains") in the garden, though there would have been no harm if we had.  
For anyone who has dealt with cremains, there are sometimes large pieces of 
bone in those urns which might have freaked some out in our garden community.  
Generally, if they had a burial niche in a cemetary they used it, or did a 
"scattering" out at sea or another appropriate place.  Interestingly, the old 
growth virgin forest at the NY Botanic Garden in the Bronx continues to be a 
regular depositing place for cremains in this town.  

One of the urban legends about the Clinton Community Garden was that after 
the garden's memoral for one of our  founders, Mallory Abramsen, her son 
scattered some of her cremains into our compost bin.  Whether this is true or not, I 
do remember the garden being particulary lush that year.....

For those who would want to have a community place for ash scattering,  it 
would be best to know your local ordinances, have a good sense of your 
community's feelings on the matter and make sure that the dignity and respect that the 
dead and their survivors should have is preserved.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman 

<< Subj:     [cg] Scattering Gardens?
 Date:  6/1/03 4:07:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time
 From:  garlicgrower@earthlink.net (Alliums)
 Sender:    community_garden-admin@mallorn.com
 To:    community_garden@mallorn.com
 Hi, Folks!
 Very interesting article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer Religion section 
 (but not on the Web version or I would include it) about a local Lutheran 
 church that has added what they call a "scattering garden" as a place for 
 folks to scatter the ashes of folks who have been cremated.
 I had never heard of a "scattering garden" before, but the article says 
 they are very common in the South and West -- basically, you have a nice 
 garden area with both annuals and perennials to scatter the ashes and a 
 commemorative plaque area to list the folks who have been scattered.
 Since our community garden is a mission of the church and we have the 
 space, I thought it might be nice to offer this service to church members. 
 Is anyone on the list familiar with "scattering gardens" (I'll be checking 
 with my state rep about regulations, but the Inquirer article didn't imply 
 this was a problem in PA) and do they have anything similar in their 
 community gardens?
 Just thought it was interesting. . .If I get the time/funds, I *really* 
 want to add a labyrinth to our community garden as a prayer/meditation 
 device -- combining the two could get even more interesting!
 Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
 St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
 A mission of
 St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  1946 >>

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