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On 2nd St., A Dispute Over a Garden

Teri Hagan, Peach Tree community garden 3Chelsia Rose Marcius Teri Hagen says that she is being unfairly denied access to the Peach Tree Community Garden on East Second Street. Those who manage the memberships at the garden deny any wrongdoing.

At the entrance of the Peach Tree Community Garden on Second Street between Avenues B and C stands a small, decorative sign bearing a one-word message: “Welcome” — seven letters that most take as a friendly invitation to enter.

But some residents say they’ve been locked out of this urban green space for at least nine months, and after voicing multiple complaints to Green Thumb, Community Board 3 and City Council District 2, one says she’s fed up with feeling overlooked.

“We have a right to be here, this is a community and everyone has to have a say,” said Teri Hagan, 75, who lives on East Second Street just across the street from the garden.
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A Threat to Local Gardens

There are 39 community gardens in the East Village, with one located on nearly every street between East Houston and 14th Street. Ranging from tiny outdoor nooks overflowing with tulips to wide double lots large enough to hold amphitheaters, the gardens offer welcomed botanical getaways from the grit of the city.

But today, urban green spaces face a new threat as lawmakers in Washington D.C. continue to mull over budget cuts to federally funded community development programs including Green Thumb, which provides New York City community gardens with workshops, tools and other necessary supplies.

“Unfortunately, it’s a possibility in all aspects of the government,” said Larry Scott Blackmon, deputy commissioner of community outreach for the NYC Parks Department.

It is a crisis some gardens may be unprepared to face. Grace Tankersley, author of “Community Gardens of the East Village,” said Green Thumb has been a valuable resource for years.

“I don’t know what would happen to the gardens without Green Thumb if it was seriously cut back or destroyed,” Ms. Tankersley said. “At the moment it seems to be a little bit up in the air. Green Thumb is funded totally through the federal government so if they lose their funding the parks department may come through with funding, although they’ve had to cut back on their budget too.”
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