Meg’s Garden is here to stay, DOE says

After a dispute over the future of Meg's Garden, located on the DeWitt Clinton Campus, the DOE is now stating that the community garden is here to stay.
Photo Robbie Sequeira

Meg’s Garden, which adorns the West Mosholu Parkway South and Goulden Avenue side of the DeWitt Clinton High School in the Norwood section of the Bronx, is here to stay, according to the city Department of Education.

“Meg’s Garden space will remain on-site and will not be removed,” reads the DOE’s letter.

Since 2016, the garden had been overseen by the James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center on a pro-bono basis but was facing eviction after the Clinton Campus Committee chose not to renew the center’s permit to utilize the garden on school grounds.

Earlier this year, the committee — which is headed by the administrators of the DeWitt Clinton Campus’ four schools: DeWitt Clinton High School, PS X721 Stephen McSweeney, Bronx Collaborative High School and World View High School — called for the removal of all mentions or associations with the DeWitt Clinton campus from the JBOLC website and all published material, and the removal of the campus address from the JBOLC website as the “location” of the JBOLC Farmer’s Market, which the organization operates in close proximity to the school, by May 12.

But pushback from environmentalists, local growers and elected officials like Democrat City Councilman Eric Dinowitz, of the Bronx’s 11th District, put pressure on the DOE to intervene on the dispute and uncertainty of the garden’s future.

“After months of advocacy, the DOE recognized how essential this space has been and will be for the community and our children,” said Dinowitz in a released statement. “All the meetings that took place over the past months allowed the students and community to speak out about their needs, and defend something that has been so impactful to their lives, particularly during these past 18 months.”

With the garden’s status no longer in question, the next steps include a change in the garden’s management, as the DOE announced that a new committee — a DeWitt Clinton Campus Garden Leadership Committee — will be formed and tasked with the future operations of the space.

The committee will include members from the JBOLC, a yet-to-be-named Community Based Organization, and members of the Clinton Campus Community.

The committee will meet at the beginning of the school year and will provide an open platform for their members to discuss the future of the space.

The DOE had alleged that JBOLC failed to maintain the garden, ignored directives to cease operations, referred to the school’s property as a “community garden,” and changed the landscaping of the campus grounds without approval.

Additionally, the popular local farmer’s market will also continue to be held in the area, as Dinowitz was able to secure a permit for JBOLC to continue community programming at their Saturday farmers market.

DeWitt Clinton sustainability coordinator Raymond Paultinus thanked Dinowitz for his advocacy and looked forward to the next chapter of Meg’s Garden, which is dedicated to longtime community activist Megan Charlop who tragically lost her life in a bicycle accident in 2010.

“We want to thank Council Member Eric Dinowitz who worked hard on behalf of the students and the community,” Paultinus said. With his support, we now have a voice … which will direct all future decisions regarding the garden spaces.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.

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