Flatbush organizations are advocating for a community farm at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Church Avenue– a lot that has been vacant since 2015 when a former school building was demolished.
Archaeological findings show the lot was once used as an African burial ground. The city plans to commemorate this, but some say that won’t be enough.
Last month, a group of organizers and residents published an op-ed in Gotham Gazette about their vision of a community farm.
“We believe that a community farm is the highest and best use of this 29,000-square-foot city-owned property at Church and Bedford Avenues. Such use would provide a more livable environment for current residents and would honor those who came before us,” said the group.
“The Munsee Lenape and Canarsie peoples who walked this land, and the enslaved of African descent who are thought to have been buried on this lot,” the group added.
“I’ve noticed over the years, we’ve had more and more children coming in and less places for kids to spend time. And during the pandemic, we’ve had a shortage of food, and this would be a very good spot for both of those things.” said Iola Sims, a Flatbush resident of 40 years and President of the Rogers Tilden Garden.
In October 2020, The Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance and Redevelopment Task Force was created by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Mathieu Eugene. The goal was to honor the site’s history and identify a developer to build affordable housing and a community center on the lot.
Some are skeptical that the housing will be affordable, “No developer is gonna develop a building without making money.” said Sims. “As we can see, we have so many developing buildings around that are supposed to be low income, and are not low income” Sims continued.
“What we’re hoping is that candidates and elected officials will hear this other proposal and will be willing to stop the development plan and just roll it back and say ‘Okay, what would be the other plan?'” said Flatbush resident Natalia Sucre, member of the Q Gardens Organization.
The Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance and Redevelopment Task Force is holding their first community workshop on May 5.