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    Community gardening receives a boost; PBS special features program's success

    (5/26/2006) The City of New Haven will commit nine parcels across the City to the Land Trust for community gardening purposes for the next five years under new leases struck with the New Haven Land Trust.

    In the meantime, Connecticut Public Television will feature New Haven’s success with community gardening in a program on Sunday, May 28 at 10:30 a.m. CPTV will air an episode "Building Community with Greenspace" that features citizens across New Haven who are working to improve the city's environment. This episode is one of 13 in

    the Natural Heroes series, which is broadcast on PBS across the nation. Natural Heroes showcases independently produced films from all over the world with one common theme: real people making a difference for the environment and enhancing the world around us.

    “Community gardening is a way to improve neighborhoods, preserve recreational space and leverage economic development,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “Community gardens are valuable both to the residents who garden and the communities where the gardens are, and to the real estate value surrounding the gardens,” he said.

    The City’s Cordalie Benoit, director of community gardens for the New Haven Land Trust, believes the long-term leases are the first of a kind in New England.

    “The five-year lease period is an acknowledgement by city government of how important the gardens are,” said Benoit. “People are more willing to work invest their time, energy and even resources when they know that a lot will remain dedicated to gardening purposes for a long period. One would be hard pressed to find an investment with more return dollar for dollar than a community garden. Gardens produce healthy food, provide exercise and recreational opportunities, they create community, strengthening block watches and ‘eyes on the street’ and they have been shown to increase the property values of surrounding properties within 1,000 feet for at least five years.”

    The City is leasing nine green properties to the New Haven Land Trust. The locations are:

    1. 11-13 Ann Street

    2. 49 Bassett Street & 281-283 Newhall Street

    3. 358 Blatchely Avenue

    4. 1592-1596 Chapel Street

    5. 145 Davenport Avenue

    6. 36 Redfield Street

    7. 47 Stevens Street

    8. 51 Stevens Street

    9. 56 Williams Street

    A recent study by New York University School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service found that the opening of a community garden has a statistically significant positive impact on residential properties within 1,000 feet of the garden. The same study found that gardens have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. A recent transaction in East Rock reflects that trend, when a developer bought a property for $62,000 simply to keep it preserved as a community garden rather than developing the property.

    The City of New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven support 50 community gardens through a partnership with the New Haven Land Trust. The New Haven Land Trust started with three community gardens in 1991 and has grown its portfolio to 50, including gardens in public housing sites, privately owned land, properties owned by the Land Trust and senior housing. In addition, the Urban Resources Initiative partners with the City to maintain 50 greenspaces.

    Sunday’s program on CTV was shot by independent filmmaker, Bill Finnegan, a Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies alumnus, who shot the film footage while still a student at Yale. Community Greenspace is a program of a local non-profit, the New Haven Urban Resources Initiative, whose mission is to support citizen's stewardship of the environment that they live in. The Community Greenspace program is

    primarily supported through a partnership between the Community Foundation

    for Greater New Haven, the City of New Haven and the New Urban Resources

    Initiative at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

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