Plantworks closing

Sad news that Plantworks on East 4th Street is closing. Many a plant bought over the  years have wound up in the M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden!

The reason for the closing? The rent has been more than doubled.

We keep losing our unique community stores and small businesses – the backbone of any neighborhood. A third gym for the area is rumored to be in the works to replace it. Sigh.

Granddaughter Dara (of the family owned business Neil and Verna Mendeloff)  hopes he can stay in the neighborhood continuing to offer us products and services we use.

Below Chris (left ) store manager and local resident activist Michele (right).


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Honored to be recognized by AAFE!

The Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition is honored to receive an award from Asian Americans for Equality “for improving the quality of life and living conditions for low-income residents in New York City”.


May 14, 2014

Ms. Kathleen Webster Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition 30 Delancey Street New York, NY 10002

Dear Ms. Webster:

AAFE’s Housing and Community Services (HCS) Office has been hard at work the past year increasing its outreach and services, expanding building organizing, launching new campaigns, and most importantly empowering community residents.To celebrate these accomplishments, AAFE HCS will be holding its Second Annual Community Fundraiser this summer. At the reception, we will honor individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life and living conditions for low-income residents in New York City. In recognition of your service to the community, we are pleased to announce SDR Coalition’s nomination as an honoree for the event.

The award presentation will take place at our Second Annual Community Fundraiser on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) at 215 Centre Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a short award ceremony at 7:00 p.m.

In addition to our members and supporters, we expect elected officials, business and civic leaders, corporate and not-for-profit organizations, artists, and representatives from the media to attend the event.

Please contact Douglas Lim at (212) 979-8988, ext. 1107 or to confirm your acceptance of the award. We will be truly honored if you can be with us for this special occasion.


Christopher Kui Executive Director

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Parks budget and us

Parks has two key budget areas: Maintenance (Maintenance, Gardening and Security Staff) and Capital Construction improvement projects.

The Chair of City Council’s Parks Committee Mark Levine wants $27 million to be included in Parks budget ,over the amount already in place for maintenance, for “neighborhood parks (those not funded by wealthy conservancies).

Levine reported that the mayor reiterated “his commitment to closing the parks equity gap…”

The Mayor has also continued to include $80 million in capital funding for Parks department use for “neighborhood parks” in the budget.

Parks Department has requested 55 capital division jobs to help move all new projects forward.

For more on Parks budget:

Interview with Mark Levine, Chair of Parks Committee for City Council


Capital article on Mayor’s Parks budget.


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The Hua Mei Bird Sanctuary in Sara Roosevelt Park


The Hua Mei Bird Sanctuary
The Hua Mei Bird Sanctuary -photo by Lee Elson

From a post on 9/8/2009 by Brian Dubé

“…In 1995, three men, a Chinese banker and two former waiters, approached Anna Magenta, who, with Federico Sabini, had started the Forsyth Street Garden Conservancy in 1994 to improve the park. With her help, they petitioned the Parks Department, and in 1995, the Hua Mei Bird Garden was hatched. Bird gardens are common in China, and there are even restaurants that cater to patrons with their birds in tow.

Every morning, a group of Chinese men gather with their songbirds, finches, sparrows, and blue jays among them. But the raison d’être of this garden is the Hua Mei with its songs. On weekends, the population of men and birds reaches its zenith, with dozens of cages along the walkway and hanging from lines. Most of the birds’ owners are retired Chinese men.

The Hua Mei is a fighting song thrush – in the company of other males, it fights, and for females, it sings. The distinguishing physical feature is a white line that circles the eye and extends towards the back of the head. The birds are kept in ornate handmade bamboo cages, frequently with a white cloth covering the cage to shield them from the impact of the city. The birds are imported from China and Vietnam – they are quite costly, requiring quarantine before being brought into a domestic environment.

The gathering is a social one for both the owners and the birds. The Hua Mei needs exercise, and the owners take the opportunity to introduce the birds to each other while bird talk dominates the conversation…”

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US Senator Gillabrand’s Representative visits M’Finda Kalunga Garden in Sara Roosevelt Park

Senator Kristen Gillabrand’s representative Patti Lubin visited the M’Finda Kalunga Garden as part of her tour of LES Community Gardens (also included were Children’s Magical Garden and Liz Christy).

Among other issues the Senator is trying to link NYC urban agriculture in community gardens with upstate farm agriculture.

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We talked about possible links to CSA’s and local community gardens. From the Senator’s website:

Connecting Fresh Produce with New Markets – Combating Food Deserts
More than 20 million people live in areas known as “food deserts,” areas that are out of reach of a supermarket, particularly common in communities of color, low income communities, and rural areas. This is a major barrier for families to reach fresh, nutritious food they need to lead healthy lives, and blocks the economic benefits of local supermarkets, such as jobs and associated retail. 

Senator Gillibrand is fighting for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to help bring more grocery stores, farmers markets, food cooperatives and other options within reach by providing one time start-up grants and affordable loan financing. 

Increasing Access to Farmers Markets
Current participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are unable to use these benefits at farmers markets because farmers markets typically lack the wired Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) terminals  that process SNAP funds. This adds another barrier to fresh, nutritious produce for families in need, and farmers lose out on this business at their markets.

Senator Gillibrand is pushing to change this by providing farmers markets and other non-traditional retailers with wireless, mobile technology that can enable EBT terminals and process SNAP payments. 

New York is home to roughly 520 farmers markets, second only to California. More than 2.5 million New Yorkers received SNAP benefits in 2010. Connecting SNAP recipients with farmers markets can help these individuals lead healthier lives with better access to fresh produce, and help support this business for our state’s farmers. 

Photo from left:

K Webster – President Sara Roosevelt Park Coalition

Bob Humber – Director of the Elizabeth Hubbard Memorial Garden and Head Gardener of M’Finda Kalunga Garden

Kate Temple-West  – Children’s Magical Garden

Patti Lubin – Senator Kristen Gillabrand’s Representative

Aresh Javadi –  Children’s Magical Garden

2nd photo the same but instead of Aresh we have Aziz!

Aziz Dehkan- Executive Director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition

Photos taken by:

Charles  Krezell: Board member of the New York City Community Garden Coalition in cooperation with LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens.)


It was good to have the Senator interested in what we do!

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New Parks Commissioner priorities: park equity, resilience, community health, safety and innovation

More good news!

“I believe in the anatomy of a place, of a city,” he said. “Parks are a system within a city. They are connected to culture. They are connected to traditions and memories, the economy, the natural systems. As a planner, I take a very different view of parks, as not just a green space but a public space.”…..

….“So equity and fairness to me is absolutely paramount. How we figure that out, I don’t know. There’ll be a lot of meetings, both internally but also externally with our partners, to figure out how we can have a fair parks system.”

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Fairness in parks spending: Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Council

“..The focus on park equity, which fits in with Mayor de Blasio’s theme of inequality, follows years of huge capital expenditures on parks under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, with almost $1 billion going to a small number of parks, like Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island and the High Line…”








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