In 1999 The Trust for Public Land (TPL) purchased 64 community gardens from NYC for $3 million as part of an agreement to save the gardens from the auction block.
The Trust for Public Land always believed that there should be an organization of gardeners in charge of community gardens. TPL helped incorporate BQLT and provided start up funds. BQLT in turn had to prove that it could run its own affairs and become financially self-sustaining. TPL is confident that BQLT is now ready to receive the deeds.
BQLT is a gardener led organization. BQLT is a tax exempt not-for-profit corporation founded in 2004. When gardeners met to form BQLT, they decided on a Mission Statement that would guide the organization for the future. It says that BQLT should work to establish a community of gardeners in Brooklyn and Queens; to educate and inspire people of all ages to become successful and environmentally responsible gardeners; support community involvement in the gardens, neighborhood beautification and open space enhancement through activities and programs; preserve, support, manage and enhance community gardens; and act as a steward of the open space properties that it owns.
BQLT, along with the Manhattan Land Trust (MLT) and the Bronx Land Trust (BLT) was created by the TPL to own and manage the local community gardens TPL owns in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.
BQLT community gardens are located in such diverse locations as Bedford Stuyvesant, Boerum Hill, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Flatbush, Fort Greene, New Lots, Park Slope, Prospect Height, Weeksville, and the Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn, and the Cambria Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, and South Jamaica sections of Queens. The gardens are truly a diverse community gardeners.
The primary job of a Land Trust is to protect its gardens. BQLT has successfully defended and continues to defend, gardens from encroachments, damage and destruction by construction companies, developers, and sometimes the neighbors. To successfully resolve these problems, BQLT, as a two borough-wide organization, can call on Trust for Public Land, politicians, New York's Land Trust Alliance, gardeners and their neighborhood organizations for support. A small group of gardeners has little chance of success negotiating with powerful adversaries.
The BQLT board has a majority of gardeners. Every garden group has one representative who has the right to run for, and vote, for the Board of Directors at the annual meeting. Some board members can be non-gardeners with special skills to help run the organization. BQLT has a part time Program Director available for garden group projects.
As all other not-for-profit organizations, BQLT asks its members and supporters to help raise funds for its operations and board members write grant proposals to submit to Foundations, and Corporations. Recently, BQLT formulated a Strategic Plan for the future of the organization that includes specific steps to fundraising goals.
BQLT's pro bono lawyer, Robert Eberhardt, agreed to donate his services. Mr. Eberhart researched the deeds and title information of all TPL gardens that were conveyed, documenting covenants, development and air rights, zoning as well as title searches and other issues. Mr Eberhardt handled the transfer of garden deeds (32) of Brooklyn and Queens from TPL to Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.
The gardens are safe from development and are preserved as permanent open space. The gardens cannot be developed.
No, BQLT nor anyone else can sell the land (garden properties).
Some gardens do have development rights that can be sold. Development rights can only be used on the same block or close by, but not on or over the community garden.
Any proceeds would go to BQLT and shared with TPL in a 80/20 % arrangement. Monies can only be spent on organization expenses.
BQLT has been in existence since 2004. Over time, BQLT has established strong leadership with an all volunteer board. A major part of BQLT work is protecting garden properties - be it from rats, deteriorating infra-structure to encroachments and damage to garden land and plants from neighbors. BQLT has created events that have become traditions such as the recognition of Garden Founders and Garden Coordinators, Annual Meetings, and Mid Year Events where gardeners are kept informed of the accomplishments of the organization. These events are important because gardeners meet each other and exchange knowledge and information.
The health and welfare of all community gardens depends on you and the community of gardeners that take care of the gardens. A strong organization, working with gardeners, can ensure the safety of garden land and the right of gardeners to garden there.
Absolutely nothing will change. The gardeners will continue to run the gardens as they always have! The gardens are community gardens serving the community. BQLT will be a stronger organization representing a larger community of diverse gardeners.
A good steward of a land trust will have to save money to pay for major expenses that might occur. BQLT is in the process of setting aside funds for unforeseen expenses. Keep in mind that BQLT is only as strong as the support of its gardeners. BQLT will do everything in its power to help provide for all the gardens the services they need to maintain the garden and to see that the gardens are fully operational at all times.
We look for you to partner with us to help keep our gardens and gardening community in great shape, as we have done all along. We can't do it alone and we know you can't do it alone either. This requires a team effort. This is a partnership. We are your partners.
Our MissionEstablish a community of gardeners in Brooklyn and Queens to: