Imani Under Threat of Demolition

Monica and Tawhid with kids working to clean up Imani II

When we discovered that the vacant lot near Imani I was actually owned by the people, we were overjoyed.  We’d been trying to garden at Imani I for several years but due to a large willow tree, the garden got little light.  By contrast, the vacant lot at 1680 Pacific was just a few feet from Imani I and had no trees at all!
We asked the elected officials who represent us if we could garden there and were initially told no because it was under the jurisdiction of Housing Preservation and Development.  But to our surprise, they offered us a license revokable at will, to use the lot for gardening.
Of course, our mistake was to accept this Faustian bargain, and sure enough just a few short years later, after we had invested over $5,000 in adding planting beds, a water storage tank and a beautiful greenhouse, our 60 plus past or present members are about to be evicted.  Why this lot was given to HPD, and not Parks, is a mystery.  It’s a small corner lot just 30 ‘ x 87 ‘, across from the Weeksville Houses, down the street from a large Sanitation garage and a block from the LIRR elevated train line.  It’s the only garden in a 20 block radius so if you want to garden in the area, we’re it.  It’s noisy and has been vacant for over 30 years.  If there was ever a house on the site, it was a long time ago, and it’s probably been vacant for good reasons.
But rather than fight City Hall, we took the bait and ran.
Now, we have no choice but to fight the decision to turn our garden into housing.  After a meeting of garden members last night, we will be producing a video featuring garden members and inviting local elementary schools to come by for a visit.  If you’e like to find out how you can help, send us an email at “imanigreg@gmail.com”.
The deadline for developers to respond to the City’s request for proposals is February 19th.  We have up until then to pursuade the City to remove our garden from the list.
Any help would be appreciated.

Planting seedlings during work day at Imani II greenhouse
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Can hydroponics be a key to making produce local?

Drawing of south facing greenhouse with solar collectors

In 2007 I was among a group of local permies who visited something called the Science Barge floating in the Hudson River.  It got a lot of media attention.  It focused on using solar power to do a lot of things, including growing vegetables with hydroponics.

Somehow, this little barge morphed into a big outfit called Bright Farms.  They’re still based in NYC, and one of their first projects was supposed to be in Sunset Park on the roof of a manufacturing loft.  As far as I know, that never happened.  They do appear to have a large operation in Bucks County, and are gearing up for greenhouses in Wash. DC, St. Paul Minn and a number of other cities.

They have a large staff and are based in lower Manhattan with lots of money from venture capitalists.

Ok, I get this all sounds too weird to be true, but there’s a lot to like in what their CEO Paul Lightfoot is saying.  My key question: how do we feel about hydroponics?

Hydroponic greenhouses
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Geo Solar Greenhouse in British Columbia

Drawing of south facing greenhouse with solar collectors

Geoff Lawton has developed yet another timely video featuring a greenhouse in British Columbia that’s using climate battery technology to heat a large greenhouse.  Interestingly the greenhouse incorporates an insulated mass on the north wall to conserve heat.  In the model we’re developing at Imani, we use six 55 gallon drums filled with water to store the heat released by the solar heated floor. The ideas are tantalizing in a time when our reliance on fossil fuels is about to end, one way or another.  Will the end be a horrible disaster because we haven’t prepared for it, or a gradual transition based on a carefully thought through plan.  The choice is ours, and yours.
Click here  to see a video about this exciting geo-solar greenhouse.

 

 

 

 

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