1984-85:  Project Harmony, a newly-formed grass roots organization, establishes an “Operation Green Thumb” Garden on several lots(including Lots 122, 122, 23 & 123 , each 12.5 ft. wide on paper; in reality, each about 10 ft. wide] Block 1928, on 122nd Street between Powell and Douglass Boulevards.  The garden lease is clearly a “one year lease to be renewed if gardeners develop the garden.”  Gardeners are told they may eventually apply for “permanent” garden status. The original founders are Cynthia(Cindy) Nibbelink, a writer and teacher who’s lived in Harlem just a few years, and Mr. Joseph Daniel Wilson, her octogenarian downstairs neighbor and friend.  Mr. Wilson, originally from Guyana, loved the earth, loved horticulture.  He composted in his own way, had a backyard garden where he lovingly tended his peach tree and annual vegetables, as well as a stand of glorious hardy hibiscus. Mr. Wilson, who was fiercely independent had brought himself to the U.S. by doing hard labor in the interior of Guyana  had, in the 1940’s bought a Harlem brownstone/rooming house for his mother, sister, and himself.  He liked speaking of his older brother, John D Wilson, who had been a “right hand” to John D. Rockefeller, and who would gladly have financed Mr. Wilson’s coming to the U.S., but Mr. Wilson felt strongly about self-sufficiency, and had sought to come here on his own and making his own way.  He regularly brought day lilies or other flowers from his garden to the little church on the corner of 7th and 122nd, where he was a faithful attendant. Cindy met Mr. Wilson through friends who had helped him with his house & who eventually purchased it from him.  

1986: Cindy meets Haja Worley at Malcolm-King College where she teaches & he’s lead singer of the gospel chorus.

1986-1993: The garden flourishes, is becoming a small park with fruit trees, honey locust, maple, ornamental crab, dogwood and mulberry trees, lilac shrubs, roses, Russian olive, lush herbs, vegetables, and more.  Cindy & Haja, who see eye to eye on about everything, marry in 1992.  They and the gardens, despite struggle, flourish with immense determination!

1989: Project Harmony, Inc. acquires another garden site at the end of 122nd and 8th Avenue: this is a large space just inside 122nd Street.  It is a major clean-up job, but eventually it becomes known as the George W. Brown Memorial Garden, full of beautiful flowering trees, perennials (lilies, roses, lilac, forsythia, barberry, winter berry, hydrangea of every variety, bridal wreathe, a great variety of herbs, vegetables and flowers.  Haja draws,  and CVCs (City Volunteer Corps youth) & neighborhood participants paint  with Haja's help large murals of Jimi Hendrix , Malcolm X, and Winnie Mandela.  

When the building at the corner collapses, PH cleans that area up as well, planting shrubs, perennials, small flowering trees.  This site is the location of concerts, harvest fairs and more.  In 1997—‘98 it is rudely trampled and then bulldozed by developers/Giuliani—even though PH was not informed this would happen.  A solid steel utility shed among beautiful trees and other specimens is loaded on a dumpster & hauled off.   Soon a huge foundation hole is dug—and the huge hole, which becomes known to neighbors and others as “Giulianni's Rat Hole,” remains that way for two years.  The area, though somewhat better, remains a problem/challenge to this day (October, 2003).]


Early 1990s: Project Harmony, Inc. receives awards from The Citizens’ Committee of NYC, TPL, The Greening of Harlem, and others for positive changes made in the community.

1993:  Mr. Joseph Daniel Wilson, a native of Guyana and long-time Harlem resident who helped to found the garden, dies at age 97.  The garden is re-named “The Joseph Daniel Wilson Community Garden” in his memory.  

1994-95: Garden flourishes, continues to be center of children’s programs, summer festivals  (the annual “Inter-generational Festival” and “Back to School Affair”) and block parties.

1995: Project Harmony receives a major award from the NYC Women's Foundation for its "Doers" organization of "women helping women helping themselves." Also a Citizen’s Committee NEAP Award (Neighborhood Environmental Action Project) for its environmental impact.  The women and girls make and sell preserves, garden crafts, dolls; they cook and sew and work hard to give themselves a “hand-up.”  They’re successful too! Two of the women are able to start their own businesses and acquire apartments for their families.

1996: Project Harmony receives a major Harlem Body Shop Award for its entrepreneurial initiatives with children and women.  By now our programs for kids have evolved into an annual summer “Environment Ranger Camp.”

Gardeners throughout the city are informed by the Giuliani Administration that the gardens will soon be demolished for housing development. Ironically, the "housing" to be developed is labeled "low income" though very few units of "low income housing" are scheduled to be built. Project Harmony "FOILS" the NYC Dept. of Housing Development and Preservation and find that housing to be built on Harlem gardens is all moderate to high income housing. 

1996-97: Gardeners around the city mobilize, outraged with the Giuliani Administration’s decision to get rid of community gardens.  For gardeners, who are mostly low income, this has never been a housing versus gardens debate. Project Harmony, in fact, began as a pro-affordable housing grassroots organization. Project Harmony, with gardeners throughout the city, struggle on every front: letters, petitions, media attention, rallies; City Council hearings are attended by children and adults who testify on behalf of their gardens. 

 


In the beginning...


In the meantime,the doers continue to can, preserve and craft.

We start making our own Olive Oil Soaps too!


1997: The second  garden [George W. Brown Memorial Garden] founded by Project Harmony near 8th Avenue and 122nd, despite promises from HPD and GreenThumb, is completely destroyed by heavy construction equipment.  A huge foundation hole is dug which remains open and unfenced for four years (residents and others call it “Giluiani’s Rat Hole”). 

1998-99:  The Wilson Garden has now established an annual “mulberry Festival” in late June.  The garden grows and flourishes although tending the garden, working regular jobs, and struggling to save the garden become increasingly laborious Newspapers all carry articles about gardens and gardeners.  The Daily News suggests Mayor Giuliani should bring pictures of gardens with him Upstate as he “unofficially” begins his Senate campaign—“He should say, ‘See, this is what people in my city do!’” the News editorializes.  A NY Times editorial says “Bulldozing a working community garden is an act of neighborhood violence.”


During this time we learn—by way of research and a helpful “insider” in the Dept. of Real Services—that ½ of the Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden –while like the rest have long ago been abandoned—remain in the name of one Alex Saget, who also owns several other properties in Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens.  We learn that back taxes for two of our lots –which are not contiguous and thus cut through the garden in two different narrow strips-- have been sold by the City of NY into a “tax Lien Trust.”  The “insider” provides us with name and telephone number of liquidator.  The liquidator tells us he will let us know if he makes contact with the “titular owner.”  I call the liquidator every couple months for an update. In ’98/’99  he informs me the titular owner has been contacted and he provides me with contact information   We proceed to contact the "titular owner.  There is at this time no response.

June, 1999: one-half of the Wilson garden is bulldozed. Cindy sees them out there early in the day, goes out and tells them she’s pretty sure we have a TRO (temp restraining order), which several groups are working on. That holds them off for a few hours, long enough to contact people on our telephone trees and media. Soon a GreenThumb rep and all media and hundreds of on-lookers are up on 122nd Street. WBAI calls for “all New Yorkers to come up to 122nd Street in protest.”  Hundreds come.  Film-documentarians are on roofs. 

The police are called—and they apologize to us that this is happening—one with tears in his eyes. Most of the trees and all the shrubs and perennials are lost; the “miracle” cherry tree, two mulberry trees, a plum tree, a poplar and two honey locusts remain on that half of the garden. The NY Times, Amsterdam News and Daily News are all there.  The bulldozers stop short of taking the famed cherry tree when activist Ben Schwartz is seen lurking among the top branches and a mid-town gardener, Mary Atwood, sees the building next to it begin to give way: she runs out to tell the people in charge of the bulldozers the potential danger; they back off, but not after disastrous harm.

Seven gardens in Harlem are bulldozed that day. We are stunned. HPD officials are seen the next morning stealing a hardy red rose, water barrels, and planters from the surviving portion of garden and carrying them off in their truck. Project Harmony files a pro-lawsuit for damages, against all parties involved. We succeed in making contact with the "titular owner." He acknowledges he is willing to sell lots 121 and 122.  He claims to be a poor man with “only this little piece of gold” in NYC. (We have since learned he owns a substantial amount of property in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn).  One of our board members—Francis Greenburger—agrees to have the lots appraised; they appraise for $25,000-$30,000 each. Greenburger offers Saget $75,000. Saget refuses, wants $150,000.

1999-2000: Gardeners pick up the pieces, raise money for a new garden fence which is crafted from laser-cut steel by sculptor Steven Schmerfeld. Steve also helps in the summer program, teaching children stone carving—a project the children absolutely love!

2000: Project Harmony receives awards from the Citizens Committee and NEAP  for “Earthwatch 2000.”  Project Harmony also receives a Fleet Charitable Trust Award for its work with neighborhood youth. Similar awards in 2001.

The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYCEJA ) and other environmental groups  as well as Project Harmony stay in touch with the titular owner (T.O). He asks for letters from our “lawyers”  We provide him with same, three times over—letters suggesting we sit down to negotiate.  Our communication with the T.O. is always cordial, though we find him less and less trustworthy.  Sometimes he’s willing to sell; sometimes not. He always insists that he does want a garden on the land. He has said this to us as well as to our neighbors.  At one point the T.O. tells me his asking price is now $300,000. Later, he says he may not want to sell.

Project Harmony and others talk with him to attempt to reach an agreement. Note that despite the letters from attorneys the titular owner asks for and receives from us, he never responds to any of them.

February, 2000: The State Attorney General succeeds in taking the city to court and getting a court-ordered Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)which will not allow any  GreenThumb gardens to be sold or physically altered in any way.

2001:  Project Harmony discovers that the city sold garden lots, including three of the Wilson Garden lots one day after the State Supreme Court issued a Restraining Order demanding “no gardens be sold or physically altered in any way.”

January-June, 2000: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts collaborates with gardeners throughout the city to produce COMMON GREEN/COMMON GROUND—a musical dramatic production staged outdoors—at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, in the Bronx at Sustainable South Bronx, in the JD Wilson Garden, elsewhere. It’s a fabulous production—somehow reminiscent of “Township Fever.” June, 2001: Bulldozers attempt to ram the fence of Wilson garden lots covered by the TRO. Staff from the AG’s office come to stop them, literally: T---C—stands in front of the bulldozer waving the TRO!

June, 2001: The AG’s office gets ready for a July court hearing regarding the status of the TRO. The Assistant AG meets with Project Harmony to review documents the city has kept from them. The Assistant AG remarks, “You would expect this [deception] from sleaze-bag attorneys, but not from Corp. Counsel!” The AG gets ready to file a motion of contempt against the city for violating the TRO ((the “midnight deal/sale”). The AG’s office is convinced they have ample evidence. They are overwhelmed with documents they’ve never before seen, presented by Project Harmony.

July, 2001: The AG begins to waver a little. This is unsettling, but hey, it’s politics! For reasons they do not explain they decide not to file a motion of contempt. Insiders say political maneuvering against the AG is going on. Someone close to the AG says, “It’s a little more nefarious than that.” They (AG’s office) ask Project Harmony and others to “compromise.” Project Harmony agrees to compromise if “it’s a fair compromise.”

July 25, 2001: The AG files a motion to “lift the TRO from the lots in question of the Wilson Garden, in exchange for the city giving the rest of the garden permanent status.” Project Harmony considers that fair.

-Giuliani’s Corp Counsel wants the TRO lifted altogether and will not consider any modifications.

--Supreme Court Justice Huttner decides the TRO will remain “status quo, ” in other words, in place/unchanged. No gardens can be sold or altered. Gardeners are mostly pleased. Project Harmony would have liked a compromise, for a fair compromise solution would seem to be the perfect model of housing and gardens working together especially in a community which badly needs both.

August, 2001: Project Harmony learns that the Attorney General has allegedly said he "will turn a blind eye" if the developer digs on the Wilson garden. An Assistant Attorney General tells Project Harmony's lawyer that if "you ever tell the Press" we'll "never do anything for you again." We’re canning, preserving, soap-making as always. We’re making mulberry & raspberry wine now too!

August, 2001-March 2002: Project Harmony continues to try to reach a just out-of-court agreement with the developer, the NYC Housing Partnership, and HPD. None is forthcoming. Our attorneys and advisors tell us “:Don’t cave in!”

September, 2001-February, 2002: Project Harmony continues to write letters to government officials, developer, and elected officials urging “fair compromise.”

March, 2002: Project Harmony embarks on its first Capital Fund Campaign, hoping to purchase privately-owned lots (“Saget lots” referenced above .

April, 2002: The developer and the Housing Partnership come to the community to announce their plan to dig on the lots still technically covered by the TRO. Project Harmony urges them to help get the city to urge a fair compromise. Community members, already upset by the developer’s extremely poor maintenance of his on-going construction sites, are enraged by the Partnership and the Developer’s condescension.

-The developer arrives with bulldozers. Project Harmony produces the TRO and stops them, along with More Gardens protestors and community residents, and the police who look at the TRO and agree, it must be adhered to. The developer (Desmond Emmanuel) is out there and very upset.

--Community members (Block Association with Project Harmony) explore ways to save the garden and get the developer to do the job right. Project Harmony realizes the garden is in imminent danger, for if building proceeds with no compromise, they risk losing the entire garden. IF Project Harmony can raise the funds to purchase the privately-owned (reclaimed by payment of back-taxes) part of the garden, they will have assurance of saving the garden.

April 23, 2002: Once again the developer refuses to talk or return phone calls. Seven building sites of his on the block remain less than half-finished and are not being worked on. He has no work permits posted; the sites are filthy; the sidewalks are broken and dangerous. The garden is in imminent danger.

May, 2002: Project Harmony calls developer, who reluctantly returns call; a meeting is set up at his office w/ PH Board members. PH comes to agreement with Developer: PH will not enforce TRO if developer protects garden, replaces trees, takes appropriate safety and health protections

May 31, 2002: Oddly, Lot 22 of the Wilson Garden is on public auction; Edie Stone of GT gets it removed. Private owner’s son ( in telephone conversation with me) says his father intended to purchase it. Source asking to remain anonymous says she/he has info that Perkins knew about this. Maybe. Titular owner tells me that this lot “is really his because it is attached to his land.”

We sense, again, he’s all talk & no action-pure asininity.

June, 2002: The Pete Seeger Garden Concert raises over $5,000.00!

July-August, 2002: The Summer “Environment Ranger Program” is a great success; For “EarthWatch 2002” Project Harmony again received a small Citizens Committee NEAP Grant ($3,500).

August 2002: Rukaye calls one day to say she “talked to some men” who were measuring the width of the garden. Rukaye’s American name is Cynthia and this “man & his son”, say to her, “Oh, you must be Cynthia Worley.” She denies it, but does not tell them who she is. She’s upset they won’t tell her who they are or why they’re measuring the garden. Later that evening, Cindy calls the titular owner. After a somewhat strange exchange (he thinks she is someone else—a tenant, apparently, who’s giving him a hard time) and his tone changes completely. Again, he says he wishes to “keep the garden” and that she should tell her "people” that he will give us a ten year lease.” If “your people” agree to that we can talk about rent and taxes. I act—as always—very naive and promise to tell his "people” what he has offered. 

September, 2002: We begin our after-school tutoring program with NYU students.

Also-we’re informed that the JD Wilson Garden has received...


the Gardener's Supply: 1st Prize for beautification of a neighborhood....NATIONALLY!

October, 2002: Tom Congdon of the State AG’s Office calls to tell us the JD Wilson Garden made the “OFFER FOR PRESERVATION” list in the AG’s settlement with the Bloomberg Administration. We’re not home-free yet, but, this is great news!! We’ll have to keep working very, very hard!

We have a wonderful “Safe Halloween” in the garden with 26 kids in attendance.

November, 2002: We begin a postcard campaign to become part of Parks. We receive an unexpected $2000.00 grant from Deutsch Bank, applied for on our behalf by NY Cares Volunteer Diedre Hinds.

December, 2002: We have a lovely holiday gathering with 30+ kids, 30+ adults, the eve of the Transit strike that wasn’t.

January—February, 2003: Heavy snows; extreme cold; as much as we try to keep an area of the pond thawed, we’re not sure that we’ve succeeded. The snow is 2-3 feet deep in the garden.

March, 2003: Great news! The Riverside Sharing Fund gives us a $5,000.00 grant—the one that they were not able to come up with right after 9/11. We had long dismissed it as a possibility.

-- “Dara” & “Nick,” NYU students, are referred to us to do Saturday programs with the kids. They’re both terrific; Dara may stay on as our intern, since Karla can’t.

--- It’s still cold. Our NY Cares team plans to come

April 12, 2003: They seem like an excellent group—very into doing this! We’ve spoken with the titular owner and he’s still willing to “sit down with us,” he says. The seedlings are growing. A late frost killed a couple things we put out too early & over eager for spring. Our big push now is a good solar system, getting ready for the summer program, NY Cares work-day; and MORE fundraisers.

March-April, 2003: Over our voicemail, the titular owner (T.O.) says that we'll have to negotiate because the city wants $200,000 from him in taxes for each lot.

Cindy looks up the lots on the NYC Dept. of Finance website, and NO such thing is going on. There is one strange glitch, where Lot 121 is concerned (the site lists it's estimated 2003-2004 market value at $200,000 --while all other lots this size the EMV (estimated market value) is $21,500.00 ). In any case, taxes are based on assessed value, not EMV.

Cindy writes the T.O., including all downloaded info, and sends it certified mail, return receipt and additionally, by regular mail. Because he does not respond, she re-sends it two more times with a polite note attached reading she feared that he didn’t receive her letter. No response, no “return receipt” ever comes back in the mail to Cindy.

April, 2003: Gardening, workshops, & fundraising!

April 12, 2003: Great day with NY Cares folks. We replaced greenhouse windows, set up the compost unit, fixed fences—got lots done. We’ve also vacuumed the pond. New snails and tadpoles arrive. We have planting workshops w/ the kids.

April 19, 2003: Received another NEIP [Citizens Committee] grant: $4,500.00. Relief!!! 

May, 2003: The garden is dazzling with spring blossoms! NY Cares helps re-do the path & much more.

June, 2003: Rain, rain, rain! The wisteria blooms! Planting & sprucing up continues...

July, 2003: Got to get active on total preservation; Environment Rangers Program July through 1st week of August: activities, activities, activities.

July-August, 2003: We have a wonderful summer—the garden flourishes; the summer program for our youth is better than ever( we have five adults working with approximately 26+ children aged 4 through 14. Two of the youths become our “urban forest” Interns via the Citizens for the NYC NEIP (NEIGHBORHOOD ENVIRONMENTAL INTERN PROGRAM)..

September, 2003: Lots of activities: A GG (Green Guerilla) & HUG (Harlem United Gardeners) Health Fair/ Voter registration, etc.; A lovely garden party to welcome new neighbors & celebrate Cindy’s birthday & kindle/rekindle friendships old & new on Sept. 6th. A salon in the garden (More Gardens!) 

Sept. 28th: Fall comes in lovely, hot & humid one day, cold the next. The fall garden thrives.

October, 2003: NYU Interns begin planning Halloween; Tutoring begins; a painting class is in the works with neighbor Diane. Clark University students visit the 11th.

October 18th, 2003: NY Cares begin routine fall mulching, pruning, etc.

October 25th, 2003: Our Halloween party is a great success; every week-end in the garden is busy. Neighbor Diane Eamtrakul has begun a charcoal drawing class in the garden, which is going very well. The bulbs are arriving. We hold workshops on Urban Forestry with neighbors. We plan a major planting of trees, shrubs, & perennials this fall. (Thanks to the Urban Forestry grant in which we participated via NYCEJA.)

November 2nd: More w/ neighbors on ordering trees & plants—good spirits abound. We’re dismayed, though, that Jack Linn of the Parks Dept. thinks the hold-up on signing our license is because lots 122 & 121 are privately owned. Soon though, that issue is thankfully, resolved.

November 7th: Cindy gets sick, so everyone pitches in to keep urban forestry project going; all kinds of trees and perennials arrive during her hospitalization (2 weeks), but Haja, Rukeya, Rebecca, Grace and Lara really do the distribution well.

November 15th: Bulb planting!! Massive bulb planting in garden (also bulb give-away via Urban Forestry Project.

December, 2003: Urban forestry Project goes well; many neighbors get involved. Our winter projects are underway.

December, 2003: We receive a letter from the T.O.'s (titular owner's) lawyers telling us to get off private lots by Dec. 31st. Antonia Bryson (environmental attorney) fires a letter back saying that given the history of the garden and land, it is a fact that we gardened with his knowledge and consent all of these years, & he has absolutely no right to evict us.

January, 2004: The T.O.'s attorneys reply, and demand we pay taxes plus $5000.00 rent per month, on a month to month basis. CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!

---ANTONIA DRAFTING STRONG RESPONSE: We’ll pay taxes, even back taxes; but our position is that the land belongs to us. --Letters written by Board members, GG’s, NYCEJA (Irene Shen); we’re considering a letter/petition, asking the mayor and governor to declare “Titular Owner’s property “ public property by virtue of eminent domain. --NY Lawyers for Public Interest find us a great attorney—Itai Tsu—who is with Dechert Price. We meet and discuss all angles. The lawyers suggest we keep a low profile in terms of responding to the T.O.; anything that costs him legal fees is not likely to go over well.

January 20, 2004: Antonia drafts a letter in response to the request for rent, essentially saying we believe the property to be ours, given the fact that Saget abandoned it over 17 years without paying taxes, and never once tried to reclaim it, or ask us to get off.

February, 2004: Dechert's attorneys ask for an affidavit simply detailing our/(Cindy’s) affiliation with the garden. Dechert will file for Adverse Possession if necessary. They advise we try to get parkland in permanent trust.

March, 2004: Late snows, but spring bulbs have sprung and spring clean-up is underway! Arthur Sheppard conducts our Citizen Pruner classes here. GREAT! We think we all passed!

April- May, 2004: The garden is beautiful. With the help of NY Cares we repair fences, clean up, plant, vacuum the pond, say hello to the frogs and tadpoles and fishes. Many visitors come. More neighbors get involved. Valerie, Victor and Veronica set a new beehive. And, yes! a small NEAP grant will help us do the summer program—though we will need to do a bare bones program, Cindy is afraid—and needs to scramble a bit for extra funds.Nonetheless, we’re blessed! Another thing: third and fourth graders from The School at Columbia present us with a check for $450.00—from their penny drive via Common Cents. YEA! The kids come to visit and plant. (Note:The titular owner has stopped paying taxes on property. Dechert says to hold tight. Is this a good thing or not?)

June, 2004:Beautiful blossoms, repairs, upgrades; Mario & Greg help us finish the back fence. Planting, planting, planting!


July, 2004: Lots of rain; the garden flourishes. Beautiful blossoms, repairs, upgrades; Mario & Greg help us finish the back fence. Still planting!

July, 2004: Lots of rain, but the Environment Ranger summer camp, while shorter than usual, is dynamic. Valerie, Falicia (one of our kids grown up), Grace, LaNoris, Connie, Haja & Cindy are all on board to teach, guide, facilitate, counsel. The kids are wonderful & some of them truly excel. We’ll hope to have a mentoring program this winter. We have cook-outs, neighborhood gatherings, friends, visitors—a blessed summer!

August, 2004: Veggies are ripening; herbs are blooming. The garden is lush & green with the aroma of tubular rose, Stargazer lilies & more. We’re planning another spa, a back to school ice cream social and more. We’re too happy & blessed that the neighbors who occupy the “new home” where the cherry tree once was are the best neighbors ever—Grace & children Grace & Mario.

September, 2004: We have a couple more cook-outs—a lovely garden party for Shannon & Cindy's birthdays.

October, 2004: Clark University students visit; we participate in the 9/11 Memorial Daffodil planting; we plant over 400 daffodils with the students. Wonderful!

November, 2004: To our dismay, our NYCares team Leader, Lara, is leaving to pursue other things. She’s been an immense help; we’ll miss her.

--NY Cares helps to plant about a 1000 bulbs. In addition, via NY Cares Home Depot comes to help with a big project: they make us a bridge, re-do the pathway, set some new planters, help plant the bulbs—we are blessed! We use garlic and hot pepper to ward off squirrels! Hope it works.

December, 2004: No more news from T.O. or attorneys. We hear his son has been involved in some real estate scam—selling homes that are not his/theirs (he & partners) to sell. He hasn’t paid taxes the last two years. Have to keep abreast of this. JoAnn gives a “natural skin products” workshop—all homemade stuff; Cindy leads a couple soap-making workshops.

January—February, 2005: we participate in Citizens for NYC workshops; write a proposal for funds essentially to work on neighborhood security and cleanliness. We’ll see.

Jan-March: 2005: Ordering seeds, deciding on plants; trying to raise funds. The exciting news is: Maria is about to facilitate a group for girls and young women, and The Soap Project is taking off in a little bit of a way! People love our handmade, hand-packaged pure olive oil (Castile) soaps & bath salts. Great!

April, 2005: Gardening is well underway. NY Cares was here for a spruce-up—good job. We’ve embarked on a fund-raiser, since we limited our fund-raising efforts (thinking we had a foot in the door w/ a veteran funder) & it didn’t happen. So, on to bigger and better things. The garden is amazing—draws loads of positive comments and lots of use from friends and neighbors, old and new. Things look great! Saget still has paid no taxes. Hmmmmm…

May-June, 2005: The water lilies are in bloom—breath-taking. The alium, peonies, and iris have finished and the lilies begin—lovely. Summer planting has been mostly accomplished. We’ve landscaped the bridge area—still a little more to do. Mulberries are falling! Haja has been visiting schools and school groups are coming in—the kids come back to the garden to collect mulberries, lemon balm, and more. Tomatoes, greens, herbs all doing well.

June 11th, 2005: A highly successful meeting of NYCEJA’s “Annual Meeting.” We note that SAGET is still not paying any taxes—is this a good thing? Dechert tells us to lay low and work toward purchasing from the City, if possible.

June-July, 2005: It looks as though we will be able to have the “Environment Ranger Summer Camp” after all—our funding is coming in, slowly. We are blessed. Since this is our TWENTIETH YEAR we’re also going to do a series of workshops—all about health, environment, culture, open space, self- help, sustainable living—throughout the summer. We’re also going to host a Wednesday night ‘Open Mike” series in the garden. NY Cares is coming in July and August to help out with a couple of major projects. Things are looking very, very good. We should be getting our signage [with an official park number!] ...any day now.

August, 2005:

1) An excellent if short summer program; Counselor -teachers Rebecca, Tikki, Valerie, Jasmine, and Patricia helped out greatly, and Rebecca helped the kids put together a great newsletter!

2) NY Cares came in August—helped with late planting & composting/clean-up.

3) We had a fine jazz/blues concert w/ Ladel Mclin, several cook-outs, and more.

September, 2005: It’s back to school—very dry, so we have to water at least twice weekly. Things look OK. During the summer our (unfortunately) non-sympathetic “new homes” neighbor poured weed killer on the left/west side of the garden, so we had to renew the soil w/ compost and do some re-planting. They also put debris from their back yard behind!!!their back yard and behind the garden, causing a significant rodent problem. We spent a lot on rodent prevention & seemed to have kicked the problem, but not without some exasperation!! --NY Cares came the last Saturday in September and did some lovely fall planting.

October, 2005: Clark U students scheduled to come to help plant bulbs, etc., Oct. 1. Yea!!!!!!

October 15, 2005: About twenty Clark students came—we gave a workshop on community gardens; they planted about 1000 bulbs. A great day!!!

October 29, 2005: A great Halloween!! At Jamika’s suggestion, we packed bags for child victims of Katrina. A big thanks to everyone who pitched in! All bags UPS’d to the “Common Ground Collective.”

November 5, 2005: A wonderful NY Cares Saturday—8 volunteers; we planted bulbs (more of them), pruned trees, took in tender plants.

December 2005: The holidays! We actually have lights in the garden this year—hurrah! (battery powered—fantastic)! The annual open house & toy drive was great, complete with Haj & my puppet Show: “The All-Star Happy Kids’ Talent Show’ with special guests, Howie the Houn’dog, Lambchop, others.

January, 2006: Preparations for a great year—met w/ people from the Abyssininan Dev. Corp. re youth programming the 11th.

February-March, 2006: Haja continues workshops with members of Abyssinian Development Corp.—youth & others. The Harlem Educational Activities Funds chooses the Wilson garden as their project re a $1000.00 grant they received from State Farm. The youths are college-bound scholars, two of whom wrote the proposal themselves. They’re helping plant, clean-up, beautify—purchased some ornamental wind chimes and other items for the garden. Truly a blessing. April, 2006: Planting, cleaning & more: a brave troop of NY Cares volunteers weathered the storm on EARTH DAY , April 22nd, and came out in force to help plant and clean up. NY Cares is great!!!

May, 2006: The spring bulbs are glorious. The pond comes alive. We’re planting & praying!

June, 2006: A busy month, but the HEAF scholars have their final event—a cook-out with friends and families. We’re meeting hundreds of people—new residents as well as visitors, who love the garden. We see all the work to do, but it is a powerfully positive place. People feel the love.

July, 2006: Cindy checks with the Dept of Finance & it appears Saget has paid all the back taxes as of May 10th, 2006. This is unsettling. Is he planning to sell a bunch of property & needs to clean up his city record before he can do that? Will he try to sell these lots as part of a “package deal?” We know his son was indicted on a real estate scam—and our dealings with him showed him to be less than forthright. WHAT’S the deal?

July, 2006: We proceed with our Environment Ranger summer camp—fewer kids this year; we’re keeping it smaller—we have less money & fewer of us—but it’s really great. We’re into “edible flowers, studying the Environment, visiting Inwood Park (fantastic!), seeing other gardens, interviewing gardeners, and more. It’s great!

A wonderful program—the E Rangers are busy & involved—we’re putting out a book of their words & pictures. They’re doing lots of hands-on stuff. We have certificates, awards, pizza and a wonderful day July 28th! Great! Now it’s on to prepare for the 1st Annual (we hope) Harlem Community Garden Tour with a jazz concert in the pm—neighbor Kenny Butler & friends featuring jazz legend Nat Jones. Lots to do: PR, flyers, list serves, all that…. . --A few more dollars comes in for general support—the Noyes Foundation via Leslie Lowe; neighbor Diane; it all helps. We’re dreaming about getting Al Gore up here to, well, help get the message through, break it down—the environment matters, not only—it’s our life!!!

August 2006: A warm season—but we have lots going on—the pond has two new inhabitants—Amir and Fatima—turtles gifted to the pond by a friend. They LOVE the pond! The E ranger program is winding down; we still have lots of recreation and workshops going on…

August 26: We organize the first Harlem Community Garden Tour—excellent participation, despite a cloudy/sunny sort of day. In the pm we had a jazz concert with our own Kenny B & friends. Great!

September, 2006: The big deal this month was getting a small shed to house our 100 chairs. We ordered it on-line & got a good deal. The NY Cares volunteers put the frame together; Fialka and three of her neighbors & Haja & Cindy finished it. Ahhhhh! A big job but worth the effort! Canning, preserving, soap-making all continue. The wines are lovely this year (can’t sell them, of course), but folks love the taste—hmmm, holiday gifts, maybe? From us to our hard workers.

October, 2006: It’s been mild, but brisk enough for our Halloween Party marshmallow roast. The kids made their own skewers from limber twigs. We enjoyed the costumes, face decorating, “Pin the head on Dracula,” the bean bag throw—lots of fun stuff. Everyone pitched in—Mario & Billy & Haja supervised the marshmallow roast. Prizes & candy bags for all. FUN!

October, 2006: Bulb planting! Thousands of bulbs! We ordered lots plus we were early participants in the Daffodil Project, so the great thing was we could give bulbs to everyone who came out to help. We gave them daffs plus some of the beautiful parrot tulips & fruits we’d purchased.

November, 2006: It’s pretty mild. We scoop the pond empty—bucket by bucket—for cleaning & in hopes of finding Fatima who refuses to come out. In the process find lots of new tadpoles & fishies (pond-raised) who had pretty much stayed out of sight prior to this.

December, 2006: Still a mild winter. The bulbs are popping up all over! We have a glorious puppet show/ gift giveaway/Holiday Open House (for the kids) & birthday party for Haja on the 10th. A great time!

January, 2007: Have just placed a seed order—and our hardy passion fowers and hardy jasmine have arrived from Logees in mint condition. Will keep them near a south window til May planting time.

February-March, 2007: ordering seeds, busy with the Coalition, planning summer events.

March: Shawn & Team from GreenThumb replace badly needed east fence & decide to do the back fence as well—which didn’t really need replacing. So, since we didn’t know they were going to dig in the back, we’ve now lost some wisteria, clematis & roses. Oh dear!!

April: NYCares is here on the 21st, Saturday before Earth Day. We have lots of community & NYCares volunteers—nearly 50—a great day! Much accomplished!

April, 2007: Shawn & pruning team come for much-needed pruning. WE NEED TO FUNDRAISE TO GET OUR OWN EQUIPMENT, CITIZEN PRUNERS THAT WE ARE! They do okay, but chop the wisteria off—all the new little catkins—gone. Shucks!

May, 2007: The “Frittalaria Triumphator” & “Lutea” are magnificent, as well as daffodils .everywhere & the gazillions of tulips, allium varieties coming—it’s paradise! --Much help from Evette, Manny, Terri & friends, Casmir—what a team! Roses beginning to bloom. A chopped off clematis is making a comeback, didn’t get dug out after all. Amir & Fatima love the pond & this unusually hot weather! The frogs are jumpin'! Planted two more water lilies, thousands of impatiens, collards, herbs, fig trees, all kinds of seeds—pumpkins are popping up (left-over from Halloween)—the garden is glorious & there’s soooo much more to do!

June/ July, 2007: Plants are gorgeous; our friend Jubal comes to lay a brick-way where we’ve placed the new arbor. The KITCHENTABLE group is growing. We have STORYTIME every Tuesday, MATH workshops Monday & Friday, KITCHENTABLE also Tuesday & Thursday, Environment rangers every day! Our new intern, Raven Trotter, is terrific. She’s a 16 year-old foster child, an honors student—all teenager for sure(!)—but wonderful with nature, its creatures and plants, and an exceptional DOER! When the kids get restless she tells them, “Patience & persistence, patience & persistence!” Raven is great!

August, 2007: Our big doings are the jazz concert & ice cream social—the 18th— and the Harlem Gardens tour which Haja & Cindy coordinate each year. Both are spectacular!!

HARLEM GREEN, A Tour of Harlem Community Gardens:

The NYC Community Garden Coalition and Harlem community gardeners will host “Harlem Green, A Tour of Harlem Community Gardens,” on Saturday, August 18th, 2007, from 10:00AM to 3:00PM. This event is free to the public.

Gardens included in the tour are as follows:

10:00 AM: The P.S. 76 School Garden on West 120th Street near Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.

10:30 AM: The Five Star Garden, West 121st Street btw. ACPowell & Frederick Douglass Blvd. 1

11:00 AM: The Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden, West 122nd Street btw. AC Powell & Frederick Douglass Blvd.

COMPLIMENTARY BREAKFAST HERE!

11:30 AM: Garden Eight, West 122nd Street near Frederick Douglass Blvd.

12:00 PM: The Clayton Williams Memorial Garden, West 126th Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard

12:30 PM: The William B. Washington Garden, West 126th near St. Nicholas Avenue

1:15 PM: Harlem Rose Garden, 4 E. 129th Street near Fifth Ave.

1:45 PM: 130th Street Block Association Garden,                             130th street btw. 5th and Madison Ave.

2:30 PM: The Convent Avenue Garden, West 151st St. & St. Nicholas

3:00 PM: The Harris Garden,                                                 West 153rd Street near St Nicholas Avenue: BARBECUE HERE! Tourists will discover everything from cooling shade trees to tomatoes, beans, corn and more unusual crops, such as Stevia (a non-sugar herb sweetener) & cotton, growing in these urban oases. There are grapevines, herbs & flowers of all varieties, fruit trees, and solar-powered ponds which host a world of water plants and water creatures.

Visitors are welcome to join the tour at any point along the way according to Tour Coordinator, Haja Worley, who emphasized that the gardeners “…are grassroots developers who have worked long and hard to improve and protect our environment in order to keep our city,(which consistently ranks worst in the nation for airborne pollutants)from becoming a concrete desert.”

Raven’s last day with us was August 9th, but she stayed on a couple weeks, as we hosted other groups, like “Science Adventure Kids”.(thirty strong—smart kids in attendance!!!) 

August 20th, 2007: Uh oh. A call from a surveyor located in Mineola. The individual didn’t seem to know too much except they need access to “two vacant lots on 122nd Street” and “Cindy Worley is the point person.” When questioned further, they hung up. Cindy politely called them back; they hung up again. So, Cindy decides to get in touch with Vollins ( an attorney we’ve retained via New York Lawyers for the Public Interest), to see what we can do.

August 21,2007: Vollins researched the Surveyor...

August 26, 2007: A call from GreenThumb; the surveyor has called them. Edie of GreenThumb already e-mailed us: she says, “We probably can’t keep them from selling, but I think we can prevent them from building anything.” They tell GT: “We don’t want to cut the lock; we want to do it the right way.” Hmmm. Vollins is on vacation this week—the surveyor’s want to come tomorrow—Cindy finally calls Leslie Lowe for advice (Leslie WILL know what to do!); Leslie advises: call the surveyor in the morning, simply tell them "it’s your policy to get everything in writing ; thus, would they please, on corporate letterhead, let you know specifically what it is they intend to do & who will do it.”

August 27, 2007: Cindy makes the call. She is very gracious but they don’t seem too pleased. She has much work to do this afternoon as school starts the 29th.

When Cindy gets home from errands,there is a message from Saget’s attorney. Cindy calls him back; he seems at the outset very annoyed, but she is nice & says we will do what we can to accommodate, but since we have women and children in the garden, we will need this letter. He agrees and becomes slightly apologetic.

August 31, 2007: The letter arrives from the attorney, not the surveyor. It’s really incomplete—includes a COPY of a letter he sent to GT’s supervisor LAST August (2006) in which he says T.O. wants in the garden to “fence off” his lots. He acknowledges, however, that the lots are not contiguous. Well, this is all pretty scary and I feel heartbroken again. But we will fight. Fight. Fight. Gotta pull out all the stops.

Persist. Persist. Persist. That’s how we all got here—dirt farmer’s daughter moves broke to Harlem. Cindy is not rich now, but she does have her own brownstone. Haja says, “Cyn, You’ve carved out a little piece of the world and made it beautiful.” Well, not without LOTS of help, to be sure. Lots of good people. The good does trump the bad. But you can never, never, ever give up!

September 4-7, 2007: A gardener writes an extraordinary letter—our intention is primarily for it to go to Oprah, but we’ll send copies to politicians, and other celebrities. Cindy spends a lot of time scanning pix! It’s a good package—we have to figure out how to get it to Oprah and others. Cator and Fialka are helping to get signatures, mobilize the community.

Fialka is awesome! The block association writes a letter/petition, is doing an e-mail campaign, and Lane from Community Pride is doing his own petition. God bless these wonderful folks! Yvette is going at it too—talking w/ people. She sees Bernadette Peters at the humane shelter where she volunteers & says she will get letters to both Bernadette and Bette Midler! This will be a long haul. Vollins is very, very good. Edie Stone got married and is away right now—we want GT to be on board, apprised of our moves, feel appreciated. That’s the word we’re sending out. Tomorrow, Sept. 8 (also, Cindy's birthday) the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, is supposed to be uptown celebrating community gardens.

We’ll present the letter there…

September 10, 2007: The surveyor calls (“Nicoletti”). Also the Title Company (Northwoods Abstract), is actively seeking a date for the survey. Cindy calls Jessie at Nicoletti & sets it up for Oct. 4th at 10:00AM. Vollins sets a meeting w/ Green Thumb for September 20th. The Block Association & Community Pride, are quite a team-->working very, very hard on this.

WORKDAYS, EVENTS & NEWS {2009-2010}:

The Joseph Daniel Wilson Garden flourishes; we have a growing CSA with "our" farmer Claudio Gonzalez of Gonzalez Farms--The "Kitchentable/Project Harmony, Inc, CSA." Our summer youth program is now a program primarily for young teens. Funding is scarce, but thanks to a few faithful donors and our Block Association, we're able to continue. We're also pleased to have the assistance of New York Cares one day per month. We've been featured in the Manhattan Times and the Amsterdam News (2010). The NYCCGC (New York City Garden Coalition) is working hard to press for legislation which permanently protects ALL gardens. We meet with attorneys from Goodwin Procter, and also with Attorney Norman Seigal. The Park's "Rules" go into effect 30 days from September 17th, 2010. We are working to get gardeners to help draft the "new license" agreement--it must reflect the will of the people.

See below:

HARLEM GREEN—A Tour of Harlem Gardens

Harlem Community Gardens are pleased to announce that “HARLEM GREEN,” the 5th Annual Harlem Community Gardens Tour, will take place on Saturday, July 31st(rain date Sunday, August 1st, 2010)from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. The Tour will begin with a breakfast in the Joseph Daniel Wilson Community Garden at 219 West 122nd Street, and the last stop will be at the William A. Harris Garden on 153rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where tourists will experience a traditional, home-style Harlem Barbecue. The Harlem gardens, all managed by community volunteers, are among New York City’s most extraordinary and best–kept secrets. Tourists will discover an amazing variety of trees, vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as ponds, gazebos, rain-water harvesting systems, and more.

The gardens are hosts to people of ALL ages. Some are shaded gardens where folks can come to relax or cook a meal. The gardens run programs for toddlers, young mothers, youths and seniors; some have tutoring programs and environmental studies workshops for teens and other community folks. There are canning and preserving workshops. Some gardens host Community Supported Agriculture programs-- “CSA’s”. “Harlem Green” has been financed in large part by the Green Guerillas of NYC, with assistance also coming from the following agencies and organizations: GreenThumb and H.U.G. (Harlem United Gardens).

The NYC Community SUMMER YOUTH WORKSHOPS BEGIN WEEK OF JULY 19TH. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SO MUCH GRATITUDE!

                  A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO HANS FUTTERMAN,                       OUR NEIGHBOR, FOR DONATING THE GREEN MULBERRY NETTING!

Project Harmony welcomes summer interns! Marouh Hussein and Zorina Razack, two Stonybrook students, will be with us for the summer. Both are environmental studies students--among the many other things they do. We will let them introduce themselves here soon. Suffice to say, they've already been initiated by helping unload and count our CSA produce, and making sure that all is distributed. Robinson Strong and Amy Hood, who are Horace Mann students, have been helping as well--harvesting mulberries, putting up the mulberry netting--no small feat! Members are ensuring that the garden is garbage free, the pond "topped," plants watered, and more! A HUGE thank you to all!

As always volunteers are so very welcome! Click on the following link, or go to our VOLUNTEER page on this site to find out more :) 


THE KITCHENTABLE/

PROJECT HARMONY CSA

212.662.2878

June 13, 2010

Our CSA is well underway with 50 members this year! "Our" farmer, Claudio Gonzalez, now delivers fresh produce to our two sites-the JD Wilson Garden on W. 122nd between 7th & 8th Ave. and Papo's Garden in East Harlem, 219 East 119th between 2nd & 3rd Ave. The produce, all organically grown is fresh & beautiful! Two of our members, Terry Rodriguez and Alison Ogden are conducting a series of cooking workshops in both gardens. The 1st was in the Wilson Garden, June 10th, with demonstrations of healthy,easy-to-make salad dressings. Yum!

PROJECT HARMONY IN ITS 25TH YEAR!
So Much Thanks to All Our Friends, who, over all the years, have given us their support:

Block Association 122; The Body Shop of Harlem; Citizens for NYC; Deutsch Bank; Greenthumb;The Green Guerilas; The Greening of Harlem; Just Food, Inc.; The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance; The NYC Community Gardens Coalition; NYC Botanical Gardens; New York Cares; NYC Council on the Environment; City-Year; Harlem Educational Activities Fund; The Kitchentable; Neighborhood Open Space Coalition; The Penny-Savers of The School at Columbia; The New York Women's Foundation; The New York City Partnership for Parks; The Riverside Sharing Committee; Tisch school of the Arts (NYU); The Trust for Public Land; A. James Heynen; Dr. David Eberle; Terri & Robert Gumula Drach; Leslie Lowe and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation; Pete & Toshi Seeger; Yvette Cruz; Sabrina Hanson; Casimir Alexander; Jay & Jennie Bell; Francis Greenburger; Esther Wanning; Rukeye Overo; Valerie Smith; Fialka Seminuik, Grace Britton, Barbara Costello, Nancy Steinke, and all our other many, many frinds and neighbors who have given so generously of their time, money and spirit. -We are forever grateful to all our fellow gardeners and "guardians" of the land.

December 20th

Project Harmony Open House & Holiday Celebration:

Despite the huge snowfall which kept some guests away, many braved the weather, enjoyed the puppet show, the songs, the food & homemade wine--and best of all, we collected a huge amount of health and beauty items--necessities--for the women of Safe Horizons' Safe Houses. Safe Horizons' "Parish Houses" are our neighbors, and we wanted to give where it was needed: we collected soaps, shampoos, diapers--you name it--all of which were picked up by the women on Christmas Eve. They were overwhelmed! We're hoping to cultivate this relationship--surely, we can benefit from getting to know one another better!

OCTOBER 24, 2009: STREET TREE CARE WORKSHOP

--a great success, sponsored by "The Million Trees Stewardship Program,"  Susan Fields, formerly of GreenThumb and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, didn't disappoint as a great workshop leader. She provided excellent information in an interactive, exciting and "fun" format. The after-lunch session was hands-on. All participants received free materials/tools to care for "their" (adopted) street tree. So motivated were a few attendees, they spent hours the next day "saving" endangered community street trees. Lunch, catered and served by Alex Lopez Reitzes' "Uprise Catering and Baking" was healthy, delicious and beautiful.

The ANNUAL KIDS' HALLOWEEN PARTY IN THE GARDEN:

(OCTOBER 31ST) was a great success as well. Over 45 ghosts, goblins, fairies, Bo-peeps, princes & princesses showed up for games, treats, marshmallow roasting & more.

Saturday, November 7, 2009:

This was our final bulb and bare root planting, seed and bulb saving for the season-- with NY Cares-- and, to our delight, a bunch of young people--pictured above --from HCZ--who came with great enthusiasm & pizzazz to help out! We also took in all the annuals we can save for next year, tropicals, and non-hardy perennials--so our indoor garden looks a bit like a rain forest at the moment! Huge thanks to HCZ youth and their leaders, Alan, our NY Cares team leader, Tara, Monique, & all the others who did a totally fantastic job!!