Affordable housing plan threatens community garden

Image 1 of 5

Already butter lettuce and green onions have made an appearance at Green Valley Garden in Brooklyn. Soon the cherry and plum trees will be full of fruit. As bees make honey, all of it will be sold at a local farmers market.

Brenda Duchene runs this community garden on New Lots Avenue in Brownsville, a neighborhood with few other alternatives for fresh produce and which has one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the city.

But the garden could soon be razed to make way for affordable housing. Last year the site was one of nearly 200 vacant lots under review for development. While Duchene and other organizers were told in December the garden could stay and be converted to permanent park space, it now appears there was a misunderstanding.

The Department of Housing and Preservation Development, which leases land to community gardens on an interim basis, says Green Valley's initial license was for just one of five lots on this corner and that the garden can keep that portion. But there are plans to build on the other 80 percent of the land.

Aziz Dehkan is the executive director of the New York City Garden Coalition. He says about 9 other community gardens have now been targeted for conversion to housing.

As for Green Valley, Duchene says the garden can't survive on just a fifth of the land. But the deal is not done. HPD says that after learning the gardeners are claiming a larger site it will review the issue and help relocate the garden if necessary.