We have spent the past days reflecting on how Brooklyn Queens Land Trust can best respond to the current COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. As we face the unknown, we hope you will find solace in knowing the permanency of BQLT community gardens, which will endure and be here in service of the community.
It’s important to take pause and remember that many of these gardens emerged from times of crisis and uncertainty: fires eviscerating seemingly permanent structures, abandonment leaving properties to rot, and the land grabs that once threatened these gardens – yet communities came together and found common cause in making these spaces into refuges for growth, solidarity, and self-determination.
Determining how to navigate the current crisis is of course a personal choice for each individual. Please continue to check CDC recommendations for how to protect yourself. If you stay inside, this time is an opportunity to rest and nourish oneself. Plan your garden for the season ahead, or look through old photos of happy times in the outdoors. Reconnect over the phone with the people who bring you strength.
If you feel safe being outside, we hope you can turn to a BQLT garden or park to get fresh air, bathe in nature, and witness the early signs of spring. As other public institutions temporarily close, gardens can offer peace and tranquility.
If you choose to garden, wear gloves and sanitize gate handles, locks, tools and valves (in addition to hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol above 60% can be used). When handling metal tools like trowels, shovels and pitchforks, it’s always a good idea to clean them off with a wire brush before putting them away. If your garden doesn’t have soap and water, use hand sanitizer. Please encourage your garden’s members to carefully consider whether to host any events (as of now, officials suggest limiting gatherings to 10 people, though this could rapidly change).
Regarding the BQLT Annual Membership Meeting scheduled for Saturday, April 4: As of now, and after much deliberation and consideration of the risks of large gatherings, we have determined to move the in-person event from the Brooklyn Job Corps to an online Zoom meeting. We will be in touch with garden representatives on how voting for new board members and viewing meeting materials will be as seamless and accessible as possible on multiple platforms. We’re committed for this to remain a tradition to come together, albeit remotely.
Looking ahead, we look forward to turning a new leaf together when the moment is right. In the meantime, remember: maintaining a flourishing garden requires patience, empathy and trust that, with time, abundance will return.