Save Maple Street Community Garden!
Organized by: Julia Stanat
We’re trying to save our community garden from the guys who claim to own it and want to destroy it. We’re pretty sure that the deed they hold is forged (they’ve been caught before for pulling this kind of stuff), so we’re in court with them. We need this money to hire a private investigator who can, we hope, bust the claim of these crooks, who want to build a four-story building with “luxury condos” — just what Brooklyn needs. Here’s our story. In 2012 a group of neighbors in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn (a largely Caribbean neighborhood) decided to do something about the empty lot at 237 Maple St. It had been filling with junk and trash since the last owner’s house burned down in 1999. We spent most of that first summer just cleaning it out and then went to work to put in a community garden, to grow produce. Using donated materials and sweat equity, we built beds to plant in and filled them with clean, organic dirt. We hooked up a set of barrels to a neighbor’s downspout, to collect rain for watering. We built, from old pallets and chicken wire, three bins to hold compost and invited everyone in the neighborhood to bring their food scraps. And they did. We built a hoop-house as a sort of improvised greenhouse (didn’t work very well), and we built a garden shed to store our tools. We got a grant for that, and a master carpenter trained a group of apprentices around the city. They came down on Saturdays all last winter, and they worked almost totally without power tools, since we have no place to draw power from. They learned carpentry, and we got our shed. Last year and this year we’ve planted and harvested several kinds of onions, garlic, leeks, kale, spinach, collards and callaloo, radishes, brussels sprouts, strawberries, tomatoes, basil, dill, mint, corn, pumpkins, melons, summer and winter squash, sweet and hot peppers and a whole lot more. We start a lot of plants from seed; gardeners fill the sunny windows of their apartments with plant trays. When they’re big enough, we put them in the ground. When they’re ready, we take what we want, but anyone is welcome to what we grow (we put up signs to show what’s ready to harvest). Anyone can use the garden. Anyone can come work in the garden. Anyone can take some food. We give regular cookouts and parties; anyone can come to them. There is no gate: the Maple Street Community Garden is always open, and everyone around uses it as an open green space, the only one in the whole neighborhood this side of Prospect Park, three long blocks away. Kids swing on the rope that hangs from our beautiful weeping willow, and seniors sit in its shade. Parents come in to do some gardening work, and their kids work alongside them. Other times school groups and local youth groups come to the garden for workshops. We’d like to keep all that going, and we would surely appreciate your help.