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Queens Chronicle

Elmhurst gardeners say ‘Lettuce Grow’

Community groups want city to buy land to preserve nabe garden

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Thu Aug 8, 2013.

Community gardeners in Elmhurst want the city to buy their plot of land to ensure it won’t be sold and developed.

For 20 years the empty property on the corner of Manilla Street and Kneeland Avenue collected trash and provided fertile soil for 6-foot-tall weeds.

Then two years ago teenagers with the Young Governors program, with help from the New Life Development Corporation, Community Board 4 and other community groups, adopted the abandoned field.

“Our dream was to give the space to the community,” said Young Governor Annie Wang from the High School for Arts and Business in Corona.

The teenagers with the help of residents pulled the weeds, planted grass, created vegetable gardens and built fences.

The owner, who could not be reached by press time, allowed the garden voluntarily.

“The owner has been great,” said Redd Sevilla, executive director of New Life Community Development Corporation.

The community group noticed the property was for sale in November and since then has been informed that there are a few serious offers — but no contract yet — for the sale of the property.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) gathered at the garden last Friday to call for the sale to be delayed so the community could conserve or relocate the garden.

Students with the Young Governors held signs saying “Lettuce Grow,” “Why don’t you lettuce stay” and “Bee kind.”

As for the city buying the property, Stavisky said she would set up a meeting with all parties and Borough President Helen Marshall to discuss what can be done.

“We want to work something out,” Koslowitz said. “This district is overcrowded.”

“We need a garden not another high rise,” Stavinksy said.

The community garden is the only one of its kind in Elmhurst, according to Jennifer Chu, president of the Elmhurst Community Garden.

Welcome to the discussion.