Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Privilege Is All Mine

On our travels of the last 7 days, we met with several good friends, many of whom had brought up the recent NY Times article about people stealing vegetables and fruit from community gardens. I ended up saying the same thing enough times to think it worth me repeating it here, and do so partly because I am surprised at how much the article goads me.

Sometimes I feel the average NYT garden writer is a dim bulb with the proper connection. I say this because I often wonder what they are thinking. Why is this a story? SeriouslyThis is a story? All the news that's fit to print? Your the New York Times -I want to see stories about people stealing justice, people stealing the security of the masses, but I don't really think that people taking fruit here or there is a story. Unless the writer makes it a story, does some leg work, finds someone who steals fruit to tell the story. Dig into the complex world of community garden haves and haves-not. It is a limited resource. Who gets to garden anyway?

So there is a story, just not what we've seen in print -the set up, the anecdotal evidence, the website with advice, and the shrug. Folks seemed to bring up the article in conversation as if there is a lesson there for gardeners. Maybe they feel it supports their own bias against such communal enterprises. Is the community garden fodder for the touchy debate about private versus public? What of ownership? What of access or agency?

I happen to find that there are those who complain about theft at the community garden and those who don't, or at the least, brush it off. Plant enough for everyone say some. I think you would be less than mammal not to feel the pull of that ever ripe fruit, hanging there, begging to be picked. I feel it. Pick me, it calls, pick me. It's fine, they'll never come and then I'll rot with flies and maggots and wouldn't that be a shame? Pick me.

I've seen the semi-lock down of the Floyd Bennett gardens and the total lock down of countless others. Our garden is generally open. There are those at Tilden who talk of fences and locks, those who have noticed the incredible rise in beach-going visitors this summer. Yet I argue against defense. We are not free when we are fenced in and locked up.

Hmm, but people stole the tomato. They lifted a cucumber. Oh yes, people are bad -at least some other people (right -it's never me, us, but them). So I consider how fortunate I am, that my access to a garden isn't a right, but a privilege in NYC, and no amount of petty pilfering will lead me to give it up. And if the theft became alarmingly wide spread, noticeably wholesale, I would know well to think that something was terribly wrong with the world in which I garden.


  1. All gardeners have to deal with some kind of stealing, whether it be by humans or critters or bugs. I try to plant more than I need so it doesn't hurt as much... I guess.

  2. Well, it bugs you when it happens, it just ain't a news story to me.


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