Grass-roots plot: Slope green thumbs mobilizing youngsters to win budgeting vote for community tool shed

Grass-roots plot: Slope green thumbs mobilizing youngsters to win budgeting vote for community tool shed
Photo by Kathy Park Price

Talk about getting out the youth vote!

Park Slopers are mobilizing some of their youngest constituents to win an upcoming participatory-budgeting vote to create a tool-lending library for school gardens in the area.

“Eleven-year-olds can vote for participatory budgeting and not enough is being done to speak to those crucial and influential voters,” said Kathy Park Price, a local mom and advocate for the more than 20 school gardens within her school district. “Expanding the electorate to the 11-years-and-up population will be critical to our success.”

The tool-lending library scheme will again be among the options that residents can elect to fund via Councilman Brad Lander’s (D–Park Slope) participatory-budgeting process this year, after it lost by a narrow margin in last year’s vote. A rep for Lander confirmed that locals as young as 11 can cast ballots in the poll, which opens on March 30.

The library, which comes at a cost of $7,000 and would be kept at Park Slope’s Old Stone House museum, would offer equipment including leaf-blowers, chainsaws, and other tools to adult supervisors of pint-sized gardeners within School District 15, which encompasses Park Slope as well as Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Red Hook, Kensington, and Sunset Park.

Price said the demand for school gardens in the area only grew after she formed the advocacy group Garden Train in 2017, which raises awareness of District 15’s existing educational farms through events such as open houses, and partnerships with other community growing patches in Park Slope and its surrounding neighborhoods.

And tiny constituents could be the block that sways the upcoming budgeting vote in the community tool shed’s favor, which is why the mom and her fellow green thumbs will spend the upcoming weeks educating youngsters in the way of the vote — a grass-roots campaign she hopes will get their parents to the polls, too.

“It’s been proven that 100 percent of adults get all the feels when they see kids in the garden learning, believing in science, and caring for the environment,” she said. “We believe the children will come out in force for school gardens this year.”

Students and teachers at schools where gardens already exist would be able to expand their growing patches with such a facility, according to Price, who said the community tools would go a long way toward creating more gardens at learning houses that currently lack them.

“There are many schools that want gardens, and the [lending library] is something garden leaders can point to, and say there’s infrastructure that can helps us,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.