Corner of Norfolk & Stanton Streets
Lower East Side, NYC
Sat. October 26
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Children's Magical Garden - Helping kids and the
Help Save the Garden from Development!
Children's Magical Garden (CMG) has been continuously for over 30 years tending and providing food, education and soul-nourishment to our neighborhood’s children and people of all ages. In May 2013 developer Serge Hoyda, who erroneously claims a section of our garden (Lot 19), aggressively tore the garden in two by putting up a fence in the middle. Newly arrived to this country ESL Lower East Side Prep high school students across the street had lovingly put in their new annual vegetable seedlings. The community was outraged, and many children from Marta Valle, School for Global Leaders, and Lower East Side Prep could see the destruction from the windows of their school building and were in tears. CMG gardeners remained calm and asked to talk with the developer, who refused.
GreenThumb from the NYC Parks Department came to us and suggested we join them by getting a lease with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. The community gardeners looked at the merits and advantages of being under GreenThumb and told them we would only allow this if we became a permanent part of GreenThumb under the Parks Department. Choosing this path, CMG mobilized and presented their proposal to the community board (CB3) who unanimously voted in support of the community garden becoming protected under Parks. Councilmember Chin also strongly advocated for our proposal. Many school children and community members lobbied the Councilmember and the Mayor. The administration then transferred our lots to Parks in record time in July of 2013. CMG signed the papers in agreement and hosted a huge block celebration/ "keep up the pressure to get back our third lot" dance party.
The illegal destruction of our garden resting on Lot 19 took away our annual vegetable bed and several fruit trees, rose bushes, and native wetlands beds. Lot 19 is the only section of CMG that is sunny enough to support the growth of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, etc. This incredible asset to the health and educational opportunities for our neighborhood’s children has been temporarily destroyed.
Members of Children’s Magical Garden have been meeting almost weekly since that time to strategize ways to get the final piece of our garden back. Retaining lawyers from Sidley Austin LLP to advise us on our rights, as well as building our case has been a labor of love .
Having the full support of our Councilmember Margaret Chin, we look forward to working with the new mayoral administration and Council Speaker to justly regain our garden's land for many generations of children now and in the future.