Times Up! takes over Williamsburg lot as first garden

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Times Up! took over a vacant lot on South 5th Street in Williamsburg, just across the street from its South 6th Street headquarters and in plain view of the Williamsburg Bridge.

“We just walked in,” said Benjamin Shepard, an organizer with the city’s grassroots environmental group.

Community gardens are a big part of the group’s history. At the end of the late ’90s Giuliani period, Times Up! took part in organizing direct actions to preserve hundreds of community gardens that suddenly went on the market. At that point, twenty-year-old leases given to gardeners in the 1970s, when guerrilla gardeners took over abandoned lots, had expired. To save the gardens from an administration set on turning the spaces over to developers, activists, from Times Up! and elsewhere, used various tactics including wearing flower head dresses and chaining themselves to gardens.

But in its twenty-five years of action, Times Up! has never had its own community garden.

“Times Up! has been about public space, defending public space for a long, long time,” said Shepard. “And creating a garden is just another step in that process.”

Gothamist reported that the city plans on leasing the lot out for an affordable housing project in the near future. Hence the name of the garden, “Nothing Yet Community Garden.”