CENTEREACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Vacant properties on Long Island could soon be turned into community gardens.
The Suffolk County Legislature has approved a plan to survey and map tiny pockets of park land and make them fruitful, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.READ MORE: Gen. Colin Powell, Former Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 Due To Complications From COVID-19
A small transformation is making a big difference. What was once a blighted parcel filled with litter and weeds is now a community garden in Bellport.
“This land was vacant. It was an eyesore,” said Bellport resident Dennis Nix. “It’s beautiful. I bring my children here on the weekends. It’s a place where community can come together.”
It’s also a place to grow food for local families and the needy. Anyone in the community can garden these raised beds, raising awareness about healthy eating.
“My children to this day eat very healthy since we started gardening here,” said Khadija Yanni, founder of the Hobsen & Neal Community Garden.
It’s a concept lawmakers in Suffolk want to grow. They’re creating a registry of so-called “orphaned” properties, of which there are hundreds in the county. Many are in residential neighborhoods.
“They may have been taken due to tax default decades ago and they got moved into parks inventory, where they’re permanently preserved,” said county lawmaker Kara Hahn. “People may dump on them, there’s maintenance issues.”
“From abandoned dumped ground, to something like this, every community deserves that,” said county lawmaker Nick Caracappa.READ MORE: Gen. Colin Powell Remembered Fondly At His Alma Mater, CCNY, And In The Bronx, Where He Was Raised
An 11-acre property in Centereach was once an overgrown mess.
“Construction workers, everybody just used it as a dumping ground,” said Ann Pelligrino, founder of Bethel Community Farm.
It’s now Bethel Hobbs Community Garden. Volunteers supply 11 food pantries and soup kitchens.
“We wanted to give them something more than just boxed stuff. We wanted to give them something that had nutrients and vitamins,” said Pelligrino.
Once all the orphaned parcels are identified, neighbors can decide if they want a community or pollinator garden.
“We wish the same for other communities because we want the children to grow up seeing food as food, not something that’s brought to you from somewhere else,” said Yanni. “So the future can be better and healthier for them.”
The mapping should be complete and made public online in six months, just in time for spring planting.MORE NEWS: Report: Feds May Allow Americans To Get Different COVID Booster Than Vaccine They First Received
Legislators estimate there may be as many as 1,000 of these tiny properties in Suffolk County.