Gardeners and politicians attacked Mayor Giuliani's plan to sell 126 community gardens in city-owned lots at a rally yesterday in Bryant Park.

    "No gardens, no peas!" yelled Haja Worley, coordinator of Project Harmony, which sponsors a Harlem garden. "Cities don't grow anything. We need farms. We need parks. . . . We need fresh air."

    Worley was among about 200 protesters at the "Standing Our Ground" rally, which drew people from as far away as Philadelphia and Boston. The demonstration came on the second of two days of protests against the May 12 sale of the gardens.

    City officials say the auction is an opportunity for New York to expand its tax base and bolster its skyrocketing real estate market. According to a Daily News analysis of city records, New York can make more than $ 3 million by selling the lots.

    "People always ask me, 'Aren't the community gardens temporary?' and I say, 'No, the gardens aren't temporary, Giuliani is!' " said Leslie Lowe, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

    Another protester, who called himself Painted Daisy, wore a purple dress and pink headdress of flower petals.

    "We've been uprooted," he said. "Our gardens have been sold off. We have nowhere to go,"

    Some wondered how the city chose which lots would be sold.

    "A lot of community gardens are in prime real estate areas, which makes sense," said David Levy, an activist from the Lower East Side Collective. "But in Harlem, there are a lot of lots in burned-out buildings. Why isn't he selling off those empty buildings? What is it? A vendetta?"

    Among those who turned out were folk singer Pete Seeger and state Sen. Thomas Duane and Assemblywoman Debra Glick, Manhattan Democrats.

    Organizers are calling for a large-scale protest involving civil disobedience outside the city's pre-auction seminar on May 5 at Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St.

Copyright 1999 Daily News, L.P.
Daily News (New York)
April 11, 1999, Sunday
SECTION: News; Pg. 12