Rogue Farm Ripped Up Because Gardener Broke Rules, Says Parks Dept.
By Carla Zanoni
Although Parks officials had earlier said they removed the farm out of concern the soil might be contaminated, the borough's top Parks official recanted when pressed to release information about contamination tests.
"We're not really concerned about contamination so much," said Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro.
"The primary reason is that you can't just go into a public park and dig up a significant area, or any area, it's just not right," he said about the decision to yank the plants.
"The basic principle is that what this person did is wrong. This is a public park, not private."
On Friday, Park workers entered High Bridge Park and uprooted yards of vegetables, tossing them into a green garbage truck before anyone could eat the harvest.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who has met the farmer but hasn't identified him, said he would work with the Parks Department to find a new space for the farmer and his team of senior citizens who had been helping grow corn, tomatoes and string beans.
Castro said the department had numerous agreements between volunteer green thumbed residents and the department at city parks and community gardens throughout the city.
He asked that those interested in growing their own gardens reach out to the Parks to discuss options.
"What happened here is very unusual," he said, noting that most of those agreements are with gardeners interested in planting flowers.
"In terms of vegetable gardens, we almost never get a request for that," Castro added. "Of course, in this case we didn't even get a request. This person went and did it on their own without permission."