In NYC, if you want a drug free community garden you need two things:
1) Gardeners and neighbors who want a drug-free garden. There have to be
neighbors who will look out of the window and call the police. Drug free
means having a critical mass of folks in the neighborhood who will pick up
the phone and bear witness against drug dealers and users. It means having
neighbors who will deal with justified distrust of the police & police
harassment to come forward and deal with the problem.
The NYC neighborhood precinct cops have come to appreciate and respect
community gardens. Our mayor may hate them, but the cops know them as drug
free, crime free zones where people give a damn, beautify the neighborhood,
shovel the snow, and care. Cops assigned to handle our City Wide street fair
last June helped us distribute root rose plants to community gardeners from
all 5 boroughs last summer. It shocked the crap out of many of our Bronx and
Brooklyn friends but they understood that the respect had been earned.
At garden razings I've seen neighborhood cops assigned to protect the
bulldozers cry unashamedly. Many cops call it the worst thing they ever get
ordered to do. People get arrested, but heads rarely get broken. It's a
story that doesn't get in the papers.
2) A locked fence with two locks:
a) A general purpose lock and chain for gardeners and neighborhood residents
to use during garden hours
b) A night lock to close the garden to everyone during the evening. The
night lock keys should be in the possession of volunteers who agree to do
garden opening and closing duties. Most NYC community gardens are
surrounded by tenements on three sides with a front fence facing the
With a key to the garden comes a key agreement (sort of like the agreement
that you sign when you get a library card) which you must sign to have
garden privileges. That is a key concept: privileges not an entitlement.
Please check out our website at http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org for
our key and gardener's agreements.
The police precinct, the local fire house, parks dept, telephone company and
Con Edison all have keys to our garden for access to surrounding buildings
Until you get a fence, have the sanitation dept, health dept or the cops
remove the needles, dope and sharps. Doing it without a fence seems to be
sheer madness to me. Maybe it's done differently in the Cabrini Green
gardens in Chicago. But the neighborhood watch aspect is undoubtedly in
place there for sure. It just isn't done to trash the gardens.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Fred Conrad [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 10:36 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [cg] needles
> Yesterday we found five paper bags stashed in various shrubs at our
> Each bag contains ten new hypodermic needles, a small bottle of bleach and
> five new condoms.
> It led to a debate among the gardeners about leaving them or removing
> The obvious concerns were the hazards to the gardeners on the one hand and
> the hazard to the users on the other.
> We often find used needles and place them inside glass bottles before
> discarding them. No needle-sticks so far. We did make an effort to trim
> and remove plants that the junkies would hide behind to shoot-up while we
> are there working, but they still come around at night. Don't want a
> Any thoughts?
> Community Garden Coordinator
> Atlanta Community Food Bank
> 970 Jefferson Street, NW
> Atlanta, GA 30318
> community_garden maillist - firstname.lastname@example.org
community_garden maillist - email@example.com