Roger That Community Garden Needs Help - Sunday 1/19
  • The Roger That Community Garden is holding a volunteer day/rally this Sunday, January 19 in order to raise awareness of the trouble suddenly facing the garden. In the past weeks, the lot was sold to a local realty company with notice that the garden could be removed as early as next week. We've been in contact with company to talk over options for either placing an offer on the land or negotiating more time to clear the garden out properly, and have started a fundraiser to help.Many of the Roger That volunteers are former members of the Crow Hill community garden on Franklin, and we've really poured our heart and soul into this space over the past two years. We've been trying to keep on top of real estate developments with the lot, but the sale of the lot happened largely without notice, so we're left trying to organize as quickly as possible to save the space.If you're around on Sunday, please stop by from 11:00AM - 4:00PM and see how you can help. We also have a fundraiser page available at A full copy of the press release circulating to various news organizations is below:
    Brooklyn, NY – January 17, 2014 – Roger That Garden Project, an iconic half-acre community garden in Crown Heights home to over 100 participants—including dozens of neighborhood children and students from local public schools—and thousands of plants, is in imminent danger of destruction as a result of a recent property sale. TYC Real Estate has purchased NYC Tax Lot 1, Block 1233, which includes the Garden and total elimination of the Garden is scheduled to be complete by next week. To save the years of dedicated work and flourishing plant community, Garden organizers must buy back the land from the purchaser or else succeed in securing additional time and a new location to safely move plants and equipment. Roger That Garden Project is urgently seeking to raise funds to support a purchase and new location to move plants temporarily or permanently. A volunteer day will be held on Sunday, January 19, from 11:00 to 4:00 to rally support for extending the life of the Garden and answer questions from press, elected officials, and community members.Roger That Garden Project, on the corner of Rogers Avenue and Park Place, opened in 2011 with three goals in mind: to cultivate food, nature, and community. The Garden is a critical neighborhood resource that produces healthy food, gives children a place to go after school, clears trash, keeps rodents away, stewards newly planted trees, and helps once-anonymous individuals become engaged community members making positive change. The Garden grew out of an effort led by the Crown Heights Youth Collective to tear down the dilapidated building formerly on the site and create a community garden to encourage neighbors to garden together in an environment affected by poverty, obesity, and food deserts. A vibrant mural to commemorate the removal of the building by the City and the replacement of urban decay with new growth and community effort was completed in 2007, and remains a visible symbol of community togetherness and partnership.Today, Roger That Garden Project is a volunteer-run, communally cared-for native plant and edible garden that has never turned away anyone who wants to interact with nature, be outdoors, and do something positive for their block. The Garden has worked with Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the NYC Department of Sanitation, the NYC Parks Department, Citizen’s Committee for NYC,, the GreenBelt Native Plant Center, Build It Green NYC, the Crown Heights CSA, New York Cares, GrowNYC, former gardeners from the High Line, and the Crown Heights Youth Collective to procure resources and build a sustainable, beautiful neighborhood asset.Roger That Garden project is currently in discussions with the developer about the viability of extending the Garden’s life by re-purchasing the land or securing several more months to safely move the plants to a new location during the warm season. To find out more, volunteer time, or suggest a new location, please contact Emily Dinan. To donate to the purchase fund, please visit
  • For those unaware with the garden on Franklin that is referenced above, here is its story:

    Summary: Gardeners cleared an unused lot, and then grew plants and vegetables. The plot was then put up for sale by its owners, and the gardeners were told to vacate.The gardeners vacated, but the land has yet to have anything built on it....
  • Here are photos of the garden on Rogers, known as "Roger That" 

    115 Rogers Avenueaka 749 Park Place
  • We got some good press from InterOccupy, too!Also, we've got a petition up if anyone is interested in had a fairly successful volunteer day, lots of people out getting signatures, a representative from the land trust stopped by, and some other locals popping in to see what's going on. Hopefully we'll get enough interest going to further delay any hasty decisions regarding the plot until we see if the land trust has a shot at buying the land.
  • The advocates for this garden continue to fight:

    However, it is not clear whether the land trust has the ability to pay a competitive price for the property.

    ...and the new owners do not seem to want to engage in a process in which they restrict the number of bidders they are allowed to market to ONE.

  • I have been told that all money raised tonight goes directly to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.

    In the event this garden is unable to be saved, the money will be used to save another garden.
  • image

    Upside down garden party!

  • Press:

    It does not sound as if one of the various land trusts was able to swoop in and save the day.

  • Nostrand Ave could use a community garden...
  • Why? This garden is one block over and there is another garden on Bedford and St. Marks and another on Bergen just off Nostrand.
  • That's a weird article. We haven't raised $15,000 yet, we're still in the process. That was just the offer we made to TYC, at which point they ceased returning our phone calls.

    We just heard back from them this week, after about two months of calling. They didn't like our offer, didn't want to call us back, and now we're still working with BQLT to see what our options are. At this point, it's largely about talking to local officials. TYC has agreed to contact us officially through their lawyer in order to see what can be done moving forward, but that won't happen for another month or so. In the meantime, we're moving ahead as usual. Nothing's over yet!
  • It would just be nice to have some open green space.
  • Sorry, wasn't trying to be snippy, it just is a strange thought as someone who grew up here in the city. I tend to think of the parks and BBG as the goto spots for greenery.
  • From an involved perspective, both as part of the Franklin Ave garden and this one, it's also a great community rally point. I've bet a bunch of people from the neighborhood that I probably would not have met otherwise (even people in this thread!). Plus, the Roger That setup has been a good experiment in public plots. Franklin Ave's garden was private plots, and this has led to a much more communal experience (in my opinion) but also some unique challenges. So outside of just having more green space (always a plus), I see each garden a new way to bring people together and try things in a context they might not get elsewhere. 
  • homeowner said:

    Sorry, wasn't trying to be snippy, it just is a strange thought as someone who grew up here in the city. I tend to think of the parks and BBG as the goto spots for greenery.

    The community gardens are more about "collective" growing and events than the parks.

    Like the food coop, they are too collective for my preferences.

    But, a lot of people seem to get a lot out of them, and they sure beat what USED TO BE the alternative: A trash strewn vacant lot.
  • Today, a construction fence is being erected on the site.

    Once the fence is complete, the site's new owners may be able to charge the gardners with trespassing if they enter.

    The end has either arrived, or is very near.
  • I saw them putting up the fence and when I saw the work permit my stomach sank a little. They've put so much work into lately that it's sad for it go away. It was a much welcome bit of greenery. But you know condos yay! 
  • This kinda sucks. There's another plot of land right around the corner on Park Place between Rogers and Nostrand that's begging to be used. It got cleaned up quite a while ago too. Some wild bushes are starting to pop up again so now would be the best time to take advantage of the land before it turns into a dump again.
  • Yes, they should find another plot to the east. I expect the lot to be surrounded in plywood soon.

  • The organizers publish what may be their last press release:
  • Noble ideals in a land of private properties.  Sadly, what they could have done from the beginning is seek legal advice to secure land before making it so desirable.
  • The site is now completely covered by a plywood fence.
  • Hopefully construction begins soon.

    ...If I were a gardener, I think it would be worse to not be able to access my garden because it "someday" was going to be built on, than if they just built on it.
  • We are still waiting to hear from TYC's lawyers regarding the use of the land. The putting up of the fence was done by TYC after telling us they would meet with us first, and then claiming that they had already talked to us about it. It's a frustrating situation to say the least. We are meeting to discuss the future of the garden and the possibility of moving out while saving as many of the plants as possible. The fence is up, but no building can happen until TYC pays off the massive back taxes owed on the land.

    We actually have been in talks for legal advice to secure the land since we moved in, but it's not something we had experience with and by the time the garden grew to a point where we could properly organize to move forward with it, this happened. Seriously, we started getting things in place back in the fall of 2013, and the actual sale happened in November.

    We still have full access to the garden as well, so that's not the concern, nor are we worried that it'll be built on someday. Right now we are exploring tracks to both preserve the garden if possible, and if not, to find the proper way to move it. We have all invested a lot of money and time into the current setup, so we are trying everything we can to delay any destruction of the property until then.
  • Most of my thoughts stem from the garden that used to be on Franklin, where the gardeners were told to leave but then nothing (yet) has been built.

    When a building is built, at least someone gets to live there.
  • The problem that we're seeing is that TYC doesn't seem like they are the ones going to build on the land, but probably sell to someone else. Because of the situation with the back taxes, it doesn't look like movement on the property could even begin for several months. That just leaves them in a position to tear down what is there and leave a mess sitting around. We'd like to try to find some way to keep the garden in there as long as possible and leave, if that is what it comes down to, responsibly. We want to avoid what happened on Franklin and try for a better option: letting something good come out of the land until they are finally ready to move on it.
  • They may believe the land is most valuable to a new buyer without the garden present.

    So, you might be able to stay on it for the longest possible time by creating an agreement which states you will leave Nov 1, or forfeit a deposit you have given them.

    You'd want to specify that you are aware said document could not be construed as a lease, and involve a lawyer who has drawn up a similar agreement.
  • We have been working with 596 Acres to figure out the best legal way to remain on the land, and BQLT has been offering some opinions as well. Unfortunately, our biggest hurdle is just trying to get TYC to communicate with us. They've largely ignored any attempts at contact over the past three months, but at least came to the garden while it was being walled up and agreed on paper to a meeting where we can cover some of these options.
  • Where ownership is not your goal we have the gardens at Brower Park where volunteers and contributions are welcomed and loved by all.
  • The members of the garden have recently decorated the construction fence:

  • Glad you captured an image of that because I walked by today and all of the posters had been ripped down. 
  • The photo was actually taken by a garden member, right after it was finished.
  • I suspect the landlord didn't approve of them using his fence to plead for their survival. He also probably didn't smile upon them ripping part of it down.
  • I chuckled at the irony of the untended plants starting to creep over the fence at the corner of the property. Its as if they are waging their own attempt to get out of dodge before the inevitable construction begins.

    Its a bit amusing to watch those that have benifited from all of the change in the neighborhood, starting to protest all of the change in the neighborhood once it affects them personally.
  • Yes.

    I also found it somewhat naive that one of the landtrusts would use their limited money at this location.

    The landtrusts wisely spend their money where opportunities to "build community" are lacking the most, and where they can secure several plots for the price of this one.

    Answer: East Brooklyn.

    There, the residents are disproportionately poor and disabled and don't have the ability to engage in safe, productive recreation. There, local gardens provide a much more needed resource.

    Here, they serve a far more "able" clientele.

    As a result, I attended the April 12th fundraiser (see grainy photos above) not because I thought it would save the Roger That Garden, but because it would be a nice little transfer of wealth from "here" to "there".
  • It's a bummer to see negative assumptions about who we are and the stuff we do in the neighborhood. Many members have been in the neighborhood for more than a decade, and while others like myself have only been here for 5 or so years, we are very active in the local community. Assuming we only care about stuff going on when it happens to us personally is kind of weird and a downer? Feel free to come by the garden anytime we are working there to talk to us about it and find out real information about what's going on and all the things we're involved in. 

    The flyers came down in the rain, they weren't torn down by anyone. 

    Little to no money was actually going to be used by the BQLT for our garden, it was all going to be raised by us and donated to the BQLT for the purpose of supporting/securing the garden (and if purchase of the land became impossible, the money would be donated to BQLT for whatever they saw fit). The person from BQLT doing a majority of the organization with us is the former President, now retired from the board, as well. 

    If anyone is interested in keeping up with developments on the garden, I highly recommend using as a resource and way to stay in touch. 
  • I don't think it is really important how long garden members have been in the community, or how active they are with other things/causes. Whether such assumptions are made about your members is irrelevant.

    This is strictly about money: This plot of land will be used by its present owners in the manner that creates the most of it.

    If a land trust was able to buy it, they could (and would) pursue goals other than money.

    ...but their ROI calculations don't seem to justify it, and the present owners seem to know that any offer a land trust makes would be far below the land's value.

  • 737 Park place could use some TLC  plantings and perhaps is available to purchase at a much lower price being a less than a "corner plot"
  • Today's NY Post states that the developer will sell the Roger That site to the gardeners for $1M.

    If they don't come up with the $, they need to be gone by Sept.

    115 Rogers
    749 Park Place
  • Kickstarter time?
  • Packing time.
  • Someone should have a chat with that school on Rogers that seems to own the rubble, weed, and junk car-strewn property facing Sterling.

    It doesn't seem to be doing anything useful with it, and it sure would be an improvement as a CG.
  • I second that suggestion, eastbloc. A community garden would be so nice in that location! Maybe the rusted out cards can be turned into a giant plant container or something.

    BTW -- does anyone know the history of the vacant lot next to the Carmel Christian School? It looks like there was a fire, but does school still happen in the adjacent building?
  • That lot is nice because it has an existing fence.
  • "Now he has doubled his asking price, all for a lot that the gardener say is worth about $80,000."

    Um, I can't think of a corner lot anywhere in CH that is worth only $80k.

  • This is the classic argument between value and cost. It may have only cost $8 in materials to create that afghan blanket, but I will price it at $50 because that is what people will pay for it!
  • Same story in Ditmas Park:

    Gardeners put lots of work into a vacant plot, and then feel they should be able to stay because they equate work and possession with ownership.
  • This is the classic argument between value and cost. It may have only cost $8 in materials to create that afghan blanket, but I will price it at $50 because that is what people will pay for it!

    One puts in hours of labor in transforming $8 worth of yarn into that afghan blanket.  (Actually depending on how big the blanket is, the raw materials probably would cost more! )The $50 asking cost may include some of that labor. There was some labor involved in Mr. Billings's tracking down the heir to the previous owner of the lot. 

  • When looked at on an hourly basis, that labor might not have even been that really well paid. has to include all of the times he researched a property, tracked down its owners, and wasn't able to buy it in order to come up with mean hourly earnings.

  • Returning to Roger That, I do love how a politician is taking credit for what is a standard procedure.

    ...DOB already doesn't issue new permits when they have unpaid taxes on them.
  • so really, Mr Billings paid $214,000 for the lot not zero as someone is quoted saying in article, since he inherits the tax lien with the title. Of course he may be able to renegotiate that lien with the city.
  • The city is in a strong position re: developers wanting permits, so I suspect they will demand the full amount owed.

    Detroit is in a different situation; that city begs for people to build.
  • Looks like the Roger That crew was out again this weekend. They painted a mural on what remains of the construction wall with their website and a request to save the garden. I am impressed with their stick-to-it-ness.
  • While they clearly have grown attached to the plot of land, they seem to be denying the inevitable.

    I am not sure I would use the word "impressed".

    Here is a photo of the mural from the air, as it appears on their Facebook feed:

  • @mugofmead, I probably should have refined my argument. The value/cost difference comes into play when I use $8 of yarn and $30 of worth of my time/labor/talent to create an afghan rug, and then I charge $50 for the rug at a street fair in Crown Heights and $200 for the same rug at a street fair in Park Slope.
  • Yes, the economic value of something is determined by what the highest bidder will pay for it.

    The gardeners don't have much $, and would like the present owners to accept payment that includes goodwill.

    At this point, it is clear that the gardeners' valuation of the gardeners' goodwill is much higher than the owners' valuation of same.

  • It is easier for them emotionally to keep this campaign up than unlearn it and try another vacant lot to occupy.  It is sad because there is another lot half a block away towards Bedford that would benifit the community too, if that is still the goal too.
  • Above, we had a brief discussion abot how much this lot is worth, and the developers request for $1M.

    In light of the nearby corner lot on Rogers at Prospect Place selling for $1.2M, the developers request for $1M seems quite reasonable.

    Needless to say, the developers are likely unwilling to take $1M anymore. ...its value has continued to increase.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Login with Facebook