Come to the Brooklyn Permaculture Meetup Friday May 20th 2016 at 7:00 at the Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue. We’ll be talking about Greg Todd’s visit to Selva Negra, a permaculture paradise in northern Nicaragua and Andrew’s upcoming Permaculture Design Course.
In a recent New York Times article, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer “discovers” that the City’s Department of Housing Presevation and Development (HPD) has allowed large parcels of land to sit idle for decades while the City suffers through the worst affordable housing crisis in its history. Why hasn’t HPD developed housing on these sites the AG wonders. HPD posits many reasons including lack of appropriate infrastructure, inaccessibility and lack of funds.
Yet while the Comptroller so sanctimoniously pillories HPD, the Department of Finance which he has a statutory mandate to oversee, continues selling City tax liens on vacant land to wealthy investors, folks speculating in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. Is there any wonder why the City has no land for developing affordable housing when it no longer takes property for delinquent taxes, as it did up until 1996 when Guiliani began the tax lien sale program? Since 1996, the number of City owned lots has shriveled. Now the City is forced to look at remote and unattractive development sites because it has nothing else left.
Of course, among the parcels sold to investors was 89 Schenectady Avenue, the middle lot of Imani I garden. (the two side lots are owned by New York Restoration Project, the garden group founded in the late 90’s by Bette Middler). Previously this lot had been owned by a church affiliated non-profit. Because the non-profit, located in Weeksville, the 2nd oldest independent African-American community on the East Coast, failed to file the necessary paperwork, the City began taxing the lot, even though the owner was technically tax exempt. Why is it that the City puts the burden of filing paperwork on the least advantaged, while allowing the most advantaged to reap the benefit? Is this part of the systemic racism that causes areas like Weeksville to be filled with tax foreclosed properties and now makes them a hotbed of real estate speculation?
This is the story that the Comptroller should be looking into, not HPD’s failure to develop random lots in fringe neighborhoods.
When will Stringer begin doing his job, the job we the people elected him to do?
Currently we have five composting bins at Imani II. At three bins we collect plants and other resources such as brush, leaves and tree limbs from the garden. Once these resources have been in the bin for several months, we place them in one of the other two bins where we mix them with other resources such as chicken manure to create a compost pile that balances brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) materials. We actively turn this pile every three days into the adjacent empty bin and add water as needed to keep it moist. In as little as two months, this active (aerobic) compost pile can be compost ready for use in our garden.
On Saturday September 29th 2012, we held our 3rd annual lobster dinner fund raiser for Imani Garden. Over 40 people attended and in total 50 lobsters were served.
Emmy Gaye, drawing on her extensive theater experience and knowledge of permaculture, gave a heartfelt talk to about 20 attendees before the lobsters were served.
With the help of Travis Frazelle, Salome Perry, Lydia Schmidt, Fabian Rosario, Tawhid Uddin, Fabian’s son (sorry I didn’t get his name), Marie Rosey and Claudia Chaqui, the dinner, which is a huge undertaking for the garden members, went off without a hitch. Not only do we bring in 60 fresh lobster from the Red Hook’s own Lobster Pound, we also bring in two large bags of seaweed, 75 ears of corn, 60 potatoes, a dozen bunches of collards (all produce is minimally treated or organic from the Park Slope Food Coop) and 80 pounds of charcoal. With a crew of five, we build up a lobster “pit” out of a dozen concrete blocks and cover it with a large sheet of stainless steel. Once the charcoal is ready, we stack on the seaweed, the lobster and the corn, cover the entire large pile with canvas tarp and soak liberally with water. Let steam for two hours, or until the lobster are a bright red, and voila: a feast fit for Kings County!
In case you’re concerned that we might be depleting our lobster stocks in Maine with our large consumption of lobsters, please see the linked article from the Maine Sunday Telegram. It seems that the lobster population has exploded in recent years, perhaps in part because lobster are bottom feeders and actually eat the stuff we throw out. According to the article, the Maine lobster catch has grown from about 20 million pounds in 1990 to 104.9 million pounds in 2010, a five fold increase in just 20 years.
Many thanks to all who made this dinner a steaming success. The funds raised will do a long ways towards further the projects planned for next year, including adding a water storage tank to Imani II, improving our chicken operation in Imani II, upgrading our solar-powerd aquaponic system in Imani I. adding covers to our compost bins in Imani II and more yet to come.
Be sure to tell your friends and family about the dinner, so we can make it a bigger and better event next year.