Expands the powers and duties of the office of community gardens.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to establishing a community gardens task force
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill has many purposes. First, to enact a comprehensive legislative findings that supports the concept and work of those involved in the community gardens movement. This is important as a demonstration to state agencies, municipal governments, and not-for-profit charitable organizations that the transfer of vacant lands to be used as community gardens is an important public policy objective that should be pursued. Second, the bill expands the powers of the Office of Community Gardens that is within the Department of Agriculture and Markets to promote community gardens. These new duties can be carried out at the option of the Department of Agriculture and Markets so there is no fiscal impact to this bill.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1: Adds a new Ag. & Markets Law section 31-f to establish legislative findings that community gardens provide significant health, educational, and social benefits to the general public, especially for those who reside in urban and suburban areas of this State. Community gardens help to provide low cost nutritious and fresh foods to the general public, especially to the disadvantaged and poor; promotes health and healthier lifestyles by encouraging better eating habits and increased physical activity, fosters the retention of open spaces in urban areas of our state's cities and villages, provides inexpensive community building activities, helps to reduce the incidence of crime, and engenders a closer relationship between urban residents and nature and their local environment.
Section 2 & 3: Amends Ag. & Markets Law section 31-g to expand the duties of the Office of Community Gardens. In the definitional section, it expands what types of activities are considered to be "garden" activities, expands the definition of "municipality", and adds a new definition for "state agency" to reduce the verbiage in this Article 2-C.
Among the new types of activities that the Office may participate in, if the Office wishes to do so, are the following:
- To assist groups that wish to establish community gardens, the Office can help to develop a single recommended application form to request a state agency or municipality to use certain vacant lands for community garden purposes.
- assist community garden groups in their activities and encourage the better coordination of activities between such groups and school garden programs and local voluntary food assistance programs, such as food pantry's and soup kitchens that provide food for the poor and disadvantaged.
- encourage better communication between and sharing of resources between community garden groups and the New York Kids Week Program provided for under the Ag. & Markets Law, and individual farm-to-school and school garden programs. The purpose of this section is to make a better connection between the activities of community gardens and the educational activities of existing school programs, if such schools wish to do so.
Section 4: Amend Ag. & Markets Law section 31-i to include municipal vacant land in addition to state agency controlled vacant land.
Section 5: Adds Ag. & Markets Law section 31-j to allow the Office of Community Gardens, at their own option, to convene a Community Gardens Task Force if authorized by the Commissioner of Ag. & Markets. The membership of the Task Force must be no more than 25 members. Further the Task Force can utilize the opinions of various state agencies such as education, health, environmental conservation, corrections, and the office of state parks. In addition, the various state-wide municipal associations can have input into the activities of the task force. The task force is to look into encouraging the establishment and expansion of community gardens, encourage cooperation between community gardens and voluntary food assistance programs, and increase the benefits provided by community gardens.
JUSTIFICATION: The legislative findings contained in section 1 of this bill outlines the many social, economic, health, educational benefits that are provided by community gardens to young and old alike. See section 1 of this bill which outlines such benefits and the justification for this bill.
Article 2-C, that established the Community Gardens Article, was first enacted in 1978. It was then re-codified with other sections of the Ag. & Markets Law in 1986, but with few changes made to this article with regard to the powers of the Office of Community Gardens or the activities that could occur within community gardens. This bill up-dates Article 2-C to better reflect the current needs of the community garden movement and the activities that may be conducted by the Office.
With New York's, and the nation's current economic troubles, it is important to update the state's Community Gardens Law to better reflect New York's current economic conditions and needs. First, land use laws and practices within city, village and suburban areas have changed and community garden activities need to be better integrated with such current land use laws, policies, and trends. Second, New York needs to promote self-help activities that can enhance our communities with regard to providing better and more healthy foods for young and old alike, encourage more physical exercise to increase overall physical well being, provides community residents with a forum in which to participate in community activities, and encourages the use of the readily available vacant lands that currently exist in many urban and village centers. The enactment of this bill is long overdue.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediate.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4906 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 29, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. KLEIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Agriculture AN ACT to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to estab- lishing a community gardens task force THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Article 2-C of the agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new section 31-f to read as follows: S 31-F. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY FINDS AND DECLARES THAT COMMUNITY GARDENS PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT HEALTH, EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO RESIDE IN URBAN AND SUBURBAN AREAS OF THIS STATE. FURTHERMORE, IT IS THE ARTICULATED PUBLIC POLICY OF THIS STATE TO PROMOTE AND FOSTER GROWTH IN THE NUMBER OF COMMUNITY GARDENS AND THE ACREAGE OF SUCH GARDENS. THE COMMUNITY GARDEN MOVEMENT CONTINUES TO PROVIDE LOW COST FOOD THAT IS FRESH AND NUTRITIOUS FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE UNABLE TO READILY AFFORD FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOR THEMSELVES OR THEIR FAMILIES, PROMOTES PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTHIER INDIVIDUAL LIFESTYLES BY ENCOURAGING BETTER EATING HABITS AND INCREASED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY BY GROWING THEIR OWN FOOD, FOSTERS THE RETENTION AND EXPANSION OF OPEN SPACES, PARTICULARLY IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS, ENHANCES URBAN AND SUBURBAN ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND COMMUNITY BEAUTIFICATION, PROVIDES INEXPENSIVE COMMUNITY BUILDING ACTIVITIES, RECREATION AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE FOR ALL AGE GROUPS, ESTAB- LISHES A SAFE PLACE FOR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND HELPS TO REDUCE THE INCIDENCE OF CRIME, ENGENDERS A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN URBAN RESI- DENTS, NATURE AND THEIR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT, AND FOSTERS GREEN JOB TRAIN- ING AND ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS. IT IS THEREFORE THE INTENT OF THE LEGISLATURE AND THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE TO FOSTER GROWTH IN THE NUMBER, SIZE AND SCOPE OF COMMUNITY GARDENS IN THIS STATE BY ENCOUR- AGING STATE AGENCIES, MUNICIPALITIES AND PRIVATE PARTIES IN THEIR EFFORTS TO PROMOTE COMMUNITY GARDENS. S 2. Subdivisions 2 and 3 of section 31-g of the agriculture and markets law, as added by chapter 862 of the laws of 1986, are amended and a new subdivision 4-a is added to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD11073-02-1 S. 4906 2
2. "Garden" shall mean a piece OR PARCEL of land appropriate for THE cultivation of herbs, fruits, flowers, NUTS, HONEY, POULTRY FOR EGG PRODUCTION, MAPLE SYRUP, ORNAMENTAL OR VEGETABLE PLANTS, NURSERY PRODUCTS, or vegetables. 3. "Municipality" shall mean any county, town, village, city, school district
[or], BOARD OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES, other special district, OR ANY OFFICE OR AGENCY THEREOF. 4-A. "STATE AGENCY" SHALL MEAN ANY DEPARTMENT, BUREAU, COMMISSION, BOARD, PUBLIC AUTHORITY OR OTHER AGENCY OF THE STATE, INCLUDING ANY PUBLIC BENEFIT CORPORATION OF WHICH ANY MEMBER OF WHOSE BOARD IS APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR. S 3. Subdivision 2 of section 31-h of the agriculture and markets law, as added by chapter 862 of the laws of 1986, is amended to read as follows: 2. The duties of the office shall include: a. Upon request, the office shall assist in the identification of vacant public land within a given geographical location and provide information regarding agency jurisdiction and the relative suitability of such lands for community gardening purposes; b. Serve as a coordinator on behalf of interested community groups and the appropriate state or local agencies to facilitate the use of vacant public lands for community garden use for not less than one growing season by receiving and forwarding with recommendation completed appli- cations to the appropriate STATE OR MUNICIPAL agency. PROVIDED, FURTHER, THAT THE OFFICE MAY DEVELOP A SINGLE RECOMMENDED APPLICATION FORM TO BE USED BY COMMUNITY GROUPS WHEN APPLYING TO STATE AGENCIES OR MUNICI- PALITIES FOR USE OF VACANT PUBLIC LAND FOR COMMUNITY GARDEN PURPOSES; c. Support and encourage contact between community garden programs already in existence and those programs in the initial stages of devel- opment; [and]d. Seek and provide such assistance, to the extent funds or grants may become available, for the purposes identified in this article [.]; E. ASSIST, SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE CONTACT AND COOPERATION BETWEEN, AND THE COOPERATIVE SHARING OF RESOURCES BETWEEN COMMUNITY GARDEN GROUPS, SCHOOL GARDEN PROGRAMS AND LOCAL VOLUNTARY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS, SUCH AS COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRIES, SOUP KITCHENS, AND OTHER COMMUNITY AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE OR DISTRIBUTE FOOD TO THE POOR AND DISADVANTAGED. SUCH SUPPORT CAN INCLUDE THE PROVISION OF SURPLUS COMMUNITY GARDEN FOOD OR OTHER AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS TO SUCH LOCAL VOLUNTARY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS; F. ASSIST, SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE COMMUNICATION, AND THE SHARING OF RESOURCES BETWEEN COMMUNITY GARDEN ORGANIZATIONS AND THE NEW YORK HARVEST FOR NEW YORK KIDS WEEK PROGRAM ESTABLISHED BY THE DEPARTMENT PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION FIVE-B OF SECTION SIXTEEN OF THIS CHAPTER, AND INDIVIDUAL FARM-TO-SCHOOL AND SCHOOL GARDEN PROGRAMS; AND G. ESTABLISH A COMMUNITY GARDENS TASK FORCE PURSUANT TO SECTION THIR- TY-ONE-J OF THIS ARTICLE. S 4. Section 31-i of the agriculture and markets law, as added by chapter 862 of the laws of 1986, is amended to read as follows: S 31-i. Use of state OR MUNICIPALLY owned land for community gardens. 1. Any state agency [, department, board, public benefit corporation, public authority]or [commission]MUNICIPALITY with title to vacant public land may permit community organizations to use such lands for community gardening purposes. Such use of vacant public land may be conditioned on the community organization possessing liability insuranceS. 4906 3
and accepting liability for injury or damage resulting from use of the vacant public land for community gardening purposes. 2. State agencies AND MUNICIPALITIES which have received an applica- tion for use of public lands for community garden purposes shall respond to the applicant within thirty days and make a final determination with- in one hundred eighty days. S 5. The agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new section 31-j to read as follows: S 31-J. COMMUNITY GARDENS TASK FORCE. 1. THE OFFICE MAY CONVENE A COMMUNITY GARDENS TASK FORCE TO IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP WAYS TO ENCOURAGE STATE AGENCIES, MUNICIPALITIES AND PRIVATE PARTIES TO ESTABLISH AND EXPAND COMMUNITY GARDENS AND THE ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED BY SUCH GARDENS. 2. THE TASK FORCE SHALL BE CHAIRED BY THE COMMISSIONER, OR BY SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT AS SHALL BE DESIGNATED BY THE COMMISSIONER. THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE TASK FORCE MAY INCLUDE REPRESEN- TATION FROM THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, OFFICE OF PARKS, RECREATION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND OFFICE OF GENERAL SERVICES. SUCH TASK FORCE SHALL INCLUDE MEMBERS THAT REPRESENT COUNTIES, CITIES, TOWNS, VILLAGES, SCHOOL DISTRICTS, OTHER SPECIAL USE DISTRICTS, PUBLIC AUTHORITIES AND COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICES. 3. THE TASK FORCE SHALL HAVE NOT MORE THAN TWENTY-FIVE MEMBERS. 4. THE OFFICE, MAY REQUEST THE ASSISTANCE OF STATE AGENCIES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND COMMUNITY SUPERVISION, OFFICE OF STATE PARKS, RECREATION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND OFFICE OF GENERAL SERVICES TO CARRY OUT THE WORK OF THE TASK FORCE. 5. THE TASK FORCE MAY ONLY ACT WHEN THREE-FIFTHS OF ITS MEMBERSHIP ARE PRESENT. ALL ACTION OF THE TASK FORCE SHALL REQUIRE AN AFFIRMATIVE VOTE OF ITS MEMBERSHIP. THE TASK FORCE SHALL CONVENE AT THE CALL OF THE OFFICE. 6. THE MEMBERS OF THE TASK FORCE SHALL RECEIVE NO COMPENSATION FOR THEIR SERVICES, BUT SHALL BE ALLOWED THEIR ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. 7. (A) THE GOALS OF THE TASK FORCE MAY INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, THE STUDY, EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF RECOMMENDATIONS: (I) TO ENCOURAGE THE ESTABLISHMENT AND EXPANSION OF COMMUNITY GARDENS BY STATE AGENCIES, MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS AND PRIVATE PARTIES, (II) TO ENCOURAGE COOPERATION BETWEEN THE ACTIVITIES AND OPERATIONS OF COMMUNITY GARDENS AND PROVISION OF DONATED FOOD TO LOCAL VOLUNTARY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR AND DISADVANTAGED, AND (III) TO INCREASE THE BENE- FITS THAT COMMUNITY GARDENS MAY PROVIDE TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY IN WHICH THEY ARE LOCATED. (B) IN ACHIEVING THE GOALS OF THE TASK FORCE, THE TASK FORCE MAY CONSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS THAT: (I) ENCOURAGE THE EXECUTION OF CONSERVA- TION EASEMENTS BY STATE AGENCIES, MUNICIPALITIES OR PRIVATE PARTIES TO ESTABLISH OR PROTECT COMMUNITY GARDENS, (II) ENCOURAGE THE CREATION OF MECHANISMS TO TRANSFER DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO PROTECT COMMUNITY GARDENS OR ENCOURAGE THE DONATION OR LEASE OF LANDS FOR COMMUNITY GARDENS, (III) DEVELOPMENT OF MODEL ZONING CODES, LOCAL LAND USE LAWS OR OTHER MUNICI- PAL POLICIES THAT COULD ENCOURAGE THE ESTABLISHMENT OR RETENTION OF COMMUNITY GARDENS, AND (IV) ANY OTHER ACTIVITY TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS DEEMED APPROPRIATE BY THE TASK FORCE ACCORDING TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE. S 6. This act shall take effect immediately.