A 21-year-old community garden in the heart of Washington, D.C. was recently shut down indefinitely. The owner of the property, the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, took the wildly unpopular action to clear the 1/4-acre space as a staging area for their upcoming renovation, which is predicted to last 5 to 20 years.
Everyone is devastated,” said Kerry Kemp, who has gardened at Temple Garden for 15 years. “It’s an urban oasis, a place for refuge.” This article goes on:
The garden, which opened in 1990, was never just a place to plant seedlings. Families held barbecues. A neighbor who’s an art teacher takes students there to paint. “There’s a lot more to it than just growing things,” says the Temple Garden association’s president, David Rosner, who became a member in 2006, after four years on the waiting list. “This is part of people’s lives.”
Indeed it sure looked like a wonderful place when I visited last summer.
Of course there was a campaign to convince/pressure the Temple to find some other solution, one that wouldn't destroy the garden. One gardener I talked to wondered why the big honking lawn next to the garden – also owned by the Temple and just as close to it – couldn't have been use for construction staging instead.
The Temple's "big honking lawn".
Once a garden, always a garden?
With all the agita and bad publicity the Temple has had to deal with over the closing of this garden, I bet there's some who regret having agreed to the garden in the first place. And I bet it gives other landlords pause when gardeners ask to put their unused land to use. Is there a better way?
Another community garden, not my favorite
I can't help but compare the fabulous Temple Garden to another D.C. garden that I'll show you but won't name. When I visited two years ago I found the grand entrance in this horrible condition, plus unkempt paths and worse – unused plots! Most gardens in D.C. have waiting lists but this one isn't even used to its capacity. And no wonder, with its lack of upkeep and worse – a coordinator who won't allow his contact information to be made public (I did that once and was scolded). The garden is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, by the way.