Community garden may grow a five-family house
by Andrew Pavia
Jul 31, 2013 | 4390 views | 0 0 comments | 150 150 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elected officials and community members rally to save Elmhurst Community Garden from development.
Elected officials and community members rally to save Elmhurst Community Garden from development.
A vacant lot on the corner of Kneeland Avenue and Manilla Street was being used as an oversized trash can until the Young Governors, an Elmhurst-based youth organization, decided it was time for a change.

So the group created the Elmhurst Community Garden, and now instead of trash it is full of fruits and vegetables. But that could all change if the recent sale of the property goes through.

“People were looking around and someone said you should start picking your tomatoes,” said Barbra Ang, vice president of Elmhurst Community Garden. “We found out the property was sold and we didn’t receive any notification.”

The site was privately owned by John Blaha, who lives in Florida. A developer purchased the land within the last few weeks and is planning to build a five-family house.

Gardeners said they were not formally notified, but they saw a “for sale” sign several months ago. Now, local elected officials and community members are attempting to block the sale.

“This is a very important to Elmhurst and Queens,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “These volunteers literally have turned what has been an eyesore in Elmhurst into a project that is productive.”

In the last year alone, Young Governors has donated over 600 fruits and vegetables to the New Life Community Development Food Pantry.

“At the time our goal was to get the community involved in something bigger and better,” said Tala Haider, 17. “We ask that the city help us in procuring this land in a mutually beneficial way to the owner and us.”

Some community gardens throughout New York City are on privately or publicly owned land that is under utilized, but are not permanent.

“We knew it was a temporary situation, but we got so emotionally attached,” said Redd Sevilla, executive director of the New Life Community Development Corporation. “We made so many friends through it, so we want to preserve it as a community garden.”

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