HPD Raid a South Bronx Community Garden

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) completed their raid of the Morning Glory Community Garden in South Bronx on Monday, November 7th, 2011. They pulled up kale by the roots, they trashed raised beds, and they erected a fence around the garden so the Morning Glory members could only stand by and watch. The HPD claims the community garden stands in the way of building “affordable” housing in the area, despite there being no concrete bid on the lot. They raided with no warning on Friday, Nov. 4th, and came back on Monday to finish the job. Morning Glory members and allies attempted to block the Monday eviction, in vain. In the wake of their garden’s destruction, Morning Glory members are reaching out to the community board to seek further action.

They could use your help in donations or even an email of support. You can follow updates on their blog Morning Glory Garden, or you can email them at morningglorygarden [at] gmail.

History of Morning Glory

The garden was originally an empty lot, owned yet abandoned by the city for 30 years. In 2009, South Bronx community members decided to re-imagine the space, creating an environment where children and adults could learn to grow, harvest and cook their own food. In the past few months they had accomplished quite a lot with very little resources. In their own words, they:

  • Doubled our growing space, for a total of 15 raised beds
  • Built a new compost system
  • Built a large seating area, with shade structure, cafe tables and chairs
  • Planted our first tree (A peach tree! And it actually produced peaches.)
  • Grown a lot of collards, kale, onions, beans, and tomatoes. Like, a lot.
  • Organized ourselves as a general meeting with working committees
  • Hosted an open mic and a community barbecue

Before the raid, they were attempting to raise another $400 dollars to work toward their own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which would provide affordable and healthy food for anyone in the South Bronx willing to participate. Grassroots organizing like this should be embraced by the city. It’s low cost, galvanizes a community and it allows for self-empowerment, education and fun. Morning Glory understands the mission of the HPD and doesn’t discount the need for affordable housing, however, I they make a valid argument, that “affordable housing is def needed, and would be easy to come by if the city would repair broken-down buildings or put rent controls on these new richy-rich developments being built.” They see that the HPD and Mayor’s housing plan doesn’t really support the communities they claim to. It supports contractors, the city departments, and those who can afford the new and pricy housing. Historically, most urban development leads to the complete displacement of the communities where development takes place. Since the 2002 implementation of The New Housing Marketplace Plan, there has been only 1 progress report in 2005, before the housing crash. It’s now nearly 2012, and self-mobilized communities like Morning Glory deserve reasonable communication from the city.

Access to Food

Morning Glory just posted this great video of community member’s voices.

Food access is a major issue in communities where there’s not much more than convenience stores and fast food chains. The South Bronx is a “food desert.” Morning Glory took this issue into their own hands, and gave the South Bronx access to healthy, organic food. Again, they deserve the respect of the city and answers for an unwarranted demolition. For more information and ways you can assist, please contact: elliottjliu [at] gmail.

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11 thoughts on “HPD Raid a South Bronx Community Garden

  1. In a city that is popping off with hip local season food markets and restaurants, folks need to be supporting this kind of truly local and sustainable food production. We want local produce and small batch goods that are contributing to our communities, not just to individuals’ bank accounts. Thanks for sharing this Sowj!

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