Volunteer garden grows frustrating

Volunteer garden grows frustrating

There are 168 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Jun 16, 2009, titled Volunteer garden grows frustrating. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

Can this garden be saved? Should it be? You be the judge. We begin last winter. Chris Blitstein had spent the last five years looking out the back windows of her Burr Ridge home at an empty lot that lay just across the town line in Willowbrook .

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Mary Pelzer

Oak Park, IL

#1 Jun 17, 2009
I commend Ms. Blitstein for her efforts to help the less fortunate and bring attention to the very real problem of lack of access to fresh produce for food pantry clients. The owner of this land sounds like a real jerk. Why can't he wait till the produce is harvested and then tell them not to come back?
wilinot

Destin, FL

#2 Jun 17, 2009
failure to communicate on steroids is more like it.
Apres Ski

Oak Forest, IL

#3 Jun 17, 2009
God will punish Cohen and this time, he won't be able to complain, not even to the devil. He's mean and deserves what he gets. Yes, it's his land, but he should give back in hard times and not let rodents the size of Alaska run rampant.

He'll pay for this ... God is watching!!!
lneal

Darien, IL

#4 Jun 17, 2009
Or maybe, sounds like Ms Biltstein took a nice gesture by the land owner and overtook the whole piece of property without permission and is now calling him a liar in the newspaper while on his land and paying no rent.
geppetto

Darien, IL

#5 Jun 17, 2009
So Ineal, Mrs. Blitstein and 30 friends decided to hijack Cohen’s land? They went to all this trouble, spent thousands of dollars, without permission?
These women are pillars of the Hinsdale/Burr Ridge/Willowbrook communities and active in all the local charities. I will put their reputations against anyone.
What has Kenny done for this community except rape the land?
backyard garden

Palos Hills, IL

#6 Jun 17, 2009
I think Ms. Biltstein did a very nice thing. However, she didn't ask. Hate to say it but it is trespassing. I grow a garden myself. I use part of the alley. If the Telephone or Electric or Village decides roll though, or mow it., there is nothing i can do & i can't feel bad. It's not my property and i knew that when i planted there. Yes, he's a jerk, but the land owner too.
lneal

Darien, IL

#7 Jun 17, 2009
Gepetto,

This story is getting nastier and nastier. No one is indicting the "women of the community".

It seems that these women have good intentions. However, sounds like the landowner is paying the mortgage and wants to sell his land before winter. They are on his land.

If the landowner gave permission for the entire lot to be covered with a garden, why is he upset?

Sounds like he didnt give permission and they have overtaken the property or at least done a lot more than he knew about.

Sounds like a misunderstanding and its getting out of hand.
Jen

Chicago, IL

#8 Jun 17, 2009
Here's the problem. The gardeners are squatting, or illegally occupying the land. Squatters can actually assume legal ownership if they occupy a piece of land for a long enough period of time, particularly if the owner knows that others are squatting on it and does nothing to stop it. So:
1. Mr. Cohen is taking the legal steps necessary to keep himself from inadvertently losing ownership of the land.
2. The gardeners, particularly Ms. Biltstein, sound as if they're trying to bully him into letting them stay put, under the guise of doing good, when they may actually be paving the path to eventually take ownership of the land by adverse possession.

You can paint Mr. Cohen to be a bad guy, but he's doing exactly what he has to in order to maintain ownership of his land. If the two groups wanted to come to a reasonable agreement, the gardeners should formally lease the property--complete with rent payments & a lease--from Mr. Cohen.
geppetto

Darien, IL

#9 Jun 17, 2009
Ineal, You're right, that is the question. He did give permission. He gave it to to his own realtor & to Mrs. Blitstein. He was told of the 2500 sq ft garden. He said in February he did not want to be bothered. This garden doesn't stop the land from selling. He has tried for over 4 years to sell. You should see what it looked like 4 weeks ago & last year. 3' grass & weeds, construction debris, piles of scrap.
He is desperate & out of control & blaming the women for his problems.
Melissa

West Chester, PA

#10 Jun 17, 2009
Sounds like the key to the miscommunication might be the real estate agent.
lneal

Darien, IL

#11 Jun 17, 2009
Gepetto,

Please clarify something for me since you seem to be "in the know".

In your estimation, why would he care so much about a 2500 sq foot garden if he knew about the intentions of Ms Billstein to take over the entire lot?

You are saying he knew the entire property would be covered with plants? Did he agree to this? Did he sign an agreement? If he did, why is he complaining?


That doesnt make sense. I am sure he wants to sell the land. If the gardeners want the land, why dont they just buy it or rent it.

Sounds like the ladies are doing a good thing but didnt take the necessary steps to either rent or lease the land and are trying to portray this man as "the bad guy"

Please explain..
JamesJ

Portage, MI

#12 Jun 17, 2009
This is insane, really. This is like some guy helping an elderly woman cross the street and afterwards she beats him silly with her purse because he didn't walk her fast enough. Cohen said it was ok for this women to plat some plats on his property, free of charge. She took advantage of him - who is she to turn someone else's property into a charity farm? Good intentions or not, she is wrong - this is not her property!
Gizmo

Portage, MI

#13 Jun 17, 2009
Is there a problem with the homeless and hungry in this community? I was under the impression it was one of the wealthiest areas in the country - literally. There are nothing but multi-million dollar homes everywehre up and down this street - the guy wants to sell his land, yet there is a FARM on it now that he ddn't put there.

Why can't this woman and her friends use THEIR OWN land to plant gardens?
Keefer6

Portage, MI

#14 Jun 17, 2009
The guy sounds a bit gruff in his comment, calling it Green Acres, and I can see painting him as the villian as it is so easy to do when someone is looking to pursue some worthy cause...but really - it's his property and he asked this women to take down her fencing, and remove the farm equipment. Who would buy this land now, knowing there is a neighbor that at any moment might construct a farm on your property and refuse to remove it?
AFK

AOL

#15 Jun 17, 2009
I must interject about this issue due to the landowner says that she could plant a few items on the land not a whole working farm. I must say that I really feel bad for the landowner in this case and it sounds like the woman took full advantage of Mr. Cohen. And it really sounds like this lady is crazy and needs professional help. If it was my lot I would pay to have everything’s transplanted in her backyard, she has no legal right to do this at all! She is totally taking advantage and is really a twisted person.
catherine moran

Melrose Park, IL

#16 Jun 17, 2009
Chris is a personal friend, as well as many of these fine women who have worked shoulder/to/shoulder on this project. I too have seen this vacant lot for the last 5 years - an eye-sore at best; overgrown, trash and who knows what rodents have called it "their" home! I can't believe Kenny Cohan is prepared to let this project now go to waste - NO, I'm not talking about the time and money the volunteers have put into it. I'm talking about the volume of produce which will now go to waste. The dollar amount at a retail cost (65 tomato plants alone - averaging 8 - 10 tomatoes each) is likely in the $10,000 range - all to feed the needy. These ladies are not supporting FOOD STAMPS so that needy people can buy twinkies and ho-ho's, they're providing nutritious food whilst encouraging better eating habits.
There is no doubt this is a serious missunderstanding between two individuals, although Mr. Cohen, could you please see this project to "fruition"? We're only asking 10 weeks, which ultimately will be the best outcome for all involved!
geppetto

Darien, IL

#17 Jun 17, 2009
Ineal, the property is approx 1/2 acre. The garden consists of 2500sf main plot & an additional 200sf of raised bed.
While this is a nice size garden, and was designed to provide lots of veggies, it take up less than 20% of the lot, nowhere near the entire property.
The ideas was for this to be a template for neighborhoods to temporarily use fallow land & grow veggies for food banks.
And yes he was asked if he wanted rent. He did not want to be bothered.
Stalbs

Portage, MI

#18 Jun 17, 2009
Going to hell? Raping the land? How laughable. Cohen is the victom of an apparently clueless woman who must feel she is above the law. What is she, a thief? Hleping the homeless and the hungry? Do the homeless seek Willowbrook Zucchini and Tomatoes, grown only from illegally used land?

Get a clue lady - the guy said you can keep your vegies there, just remove the farms, fensing, tractors, construction euiqpment, and throngs of people sipping pina coladas in ther lawn chairs seeking some spotlight in thier otherwise mundane lives.
Marine

Chicago, IL

#19 Jun 17, 2009
What don't you fools understand, he owns the property! Get the fugk out!! Couldn't believe that this was even reported on the evening news. What are we some socialist agrarian collective? He owns it, wants to sell it... get lost hippies!
George from outer space

Winnipeg, Canada

#20 Jun 17, 2009
Good old Kenny. An absentee landlord. Not caring enough to maintain the property to the standards of the neighborhood BUT so ready to to condemn those who do.

What, he wondered, was next?

"A lemonade stand? An outhouse?"

I guess in Kenny's little world a weed infested lot is better than keeping it maintained.

Says so MUCH about Kenny. So quick to be so condescending but will do nothing on his own to maintain the property.

I guess the neighborhood should be grateful to NOT HAVE this irresponsible, childish, lazy lout as a neighbor.

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