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Residents Turn Abandoned Parking Lot Into Community Garden

By Janet Upadhye | November 22, 2013 8:42am
 The lot at York and Gold streets in Vinegar Hill will soon be a member-based community garden.
The lot at York and Gold streets in Vinegar Hill will soon be a member-based community garden.
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VINEGAR HILL — There's new life at a vacant lot in Vinegar Hill.

Local resident Amber Banks — in partnership with GreenThumb, GrowNYC, Trees New York, Etsy, and 596 Acres — is transforming a city-owned patch of land at the corner of York and Gold Streets into a community garden.

"I had my eye on that lot for a while," she said. "One day a sign appeared saying it was available for community use and I started a mountain of paperwork with the city to get a garden. Now it's happening."

Banks — who runs a local daycare center — applied for funding through the city's Gardens for Healthy Communities in July and was awarded a grant.

Banks then gathered local resident and business support and within months, a garden was growing.

"A lot of older women and young boys from the neighborhood stopped to help out when they saw we were building a garden," she said. "People are really excited about getting to grow their own food in a neighborhood where many people are forced to shop at bodegas."

GrowNYC provided soil and beds to cover the lot, Etsy helped build a shed, and Trees New York planted fruit trees, Banks said.

Tomatoes and cucumbers are currently in bloom on the site but beginning next spring a plethora of crops are expected to grow, including quince, persimmons, two kinds of cherries, and apriums — a cross between apricots and plums — on the newly planted fruit trees, according to Trees New York.

Students at nearby P.S. 307 have reserved a plant bed for science classes and beginning in April, 10 to 12 lots will be available for members.

Prospective members are responsible for managing a private or shared plant beds, volunteering two hours a month on communal plots, and paying an optional fee of $25 dollars. For more information write Vinegar Hill Community Garden.