April 19, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Woodside could see two community gardens soon, as the city is preparing to license out small plots of land in the area to a non-profit and community gardening program.
The two triangular lots in question are on opposite sides of one another by 41-38 69th St., parallel to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below them and close to Woodside Avenue.
The sites are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, which owns the BQE bridge structure the lots are on.
The lots would be converted to community gardens run by both the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization, and GreenThumb, a NYC Parks program that supports community gardens around the city.
The IRC runs a community gardens initiative aimed at helping arriving refugees and immigrants integrate into their new communities by growing and cultivating a garden with local residents.
Kathleen McTigue, an IRC program manager, referenced the success of an urban farm in the Bronx her group has maintained with GreenThumb for the past five years.
“We wanted to look at an opportunity here in Queens,” she said to Community Board 2’s Land Use meeting. “A lot of our refugee and asylum clients also live along the 7 train corridor.”
The two plots in Woodside, however, are less than half an acre, which would allow for more of a green gathering space than an urban farm, she added.
The gardens would be open to the community at large, including school groups, residents, and local organizations. Alex Muñoz, Assistant Director for Community Engagement at GreenThumb, said the over 500 community gardens around the city are required to open to the community for 20 hours a week at minimum.
Every community garden also comes with a set of by-laws, many of which give priority to community residents for use of the garden beds, he added.
McTigue said the IRC needs to do research on what exactly can be grown on the plots, given its location above the BQE, but would look to start work on the gardens once the licensing agreement kicks off with Community Board 2 approval.
The Land Use committee supported the proposal, on the condition that residents receive priority to the gardens.
The two plots, since chained off, previously saw people growing vegetables on them, and one homeless person who set up an encampment there, the DOT said.