The Foreclosure Garden Story

This blog is about gardening on a foreclosed property. Posts are mainly about the gardens progress with the occasional post about foreclosures.
To get up to speed on the project go to the first few posts which tell the story of the property and how the garden came into being.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Day in the Garden

This morning the garden was doing beautifully. The mortgage tomatoes were gigantic,

and the corn was coming along so nicely.
But then I noticed a truck pull in to the back. My neighbor A came over and said he was concerned. Some man had been talking angrily about the garden. We decided to go talk to him. I was optimistic. The last crew that had been there had sealed up the crawl space under the house and some kittens were trapped inside. C who feeds and keeps track of all the neighborhood cats had come over and the guy had unscrewed the grates and let us put a have a heart trap in. We got one cat in the trap and had made sure all the cats were safetly out.

I went over and introduced myself as a neighbor who is concerned about the house and property. I asked if he had a business card. He told me to f*#k off and get off his property. I said I thought this was a foreclosed property but that if he owned it than I would leave. He said he worked for Bank of America and then threatened to call the police and swore at me in a very threatening manner. I tried to tell him I was just a concerned neighbor and if he were there to take care of the place than that was great but we had had some problems in the past with squatters. We have all heard stories of people showing up at foreclosed houses and stealing all the copper. I knew that Bank of America did not own the property, so I was suspicious.
The Mean Man reporting to the police that I am waving a gun at him...

I'm not sure if he was perhaps drunk because I didn't feel I had said anything by this point that was inappropriate, but he said he was going to call the police. I said I just wanted a business card from him and I would be on my way. He then said his name was Phil Missig, the realtor whose sign in the window promises the property will be "coming soon". Since I have met Phil Missig (his partner had sold us our house!), I was now very worried. He proceeded to call the police and report that I was waving a gun at him. A and I were thunderstruck at this guy's crazy behavior.

I then called Phil Missig and told him there was This Man claiming to be Him and claiming to work for B of A. He explained that B of A has some deal with the Bank of New York- which only owns part of the property but that Phil is trying to persuade the bank to sell. It all seems wildly complicated and doubtful since ownership is actually unclear. As I understand it, mortgages were bundled like stocks and sold off in pieces to make the banks seem as if they had less bad loans then they did. The neighbors had planted a small garden in the front yard as a way of keeping the house looking tidy. I asked Phil if this were alright and if he would let the garden remain. He said of course and that it was great that the community was taking care of the yard in this way. He then called The Man (who never told me his name), and told him to leave the garden.

So this is how the banks take care of their property...

It is a sad day for The Foreclosure Garden and for the people who have enjoyed watching it grow for the past few months. We managed to keep the building graffiti-free for three months.
I am not sure what to make of Phil. Evidently part of the property extends back to a house that enters by way of Merwin Street. He is actively trying to evict long term tenants so he can sell the property. I don't know them but so many renters have been driven from their homes, first because of the housing bubble, and now due to foreclosures. Just because a bank owns a property why should the tenants pay for their bad policies? He told me he asked the Mean Man to preserve the garden. I called Phil and told him I felt he was to blame for the garden's destruction. He called me back and apologized, but then said it was The Bank and not him who had hired the guy.

I never did get the guys name. I should try and get a contact name at B of A from Phil. I urged him to hire a local gardener to take care of the place but Phil says that's not his job.

I have started some sunflower seeds- about two hundred Sunzillas. Maybe that will be next? I will see what happens with the space.


  1. I love that you got his photo at least, but otherwise, how sad and frustrating!

  2. Very frustrating indeed. I've had my share of landlords wielding herbicides. :-P Always a bit heartbreaking.

  3. I live in Oakland and was directed here from another urban gardening site. Thought what you were doing was pretty cool, reclaiming dead space for productivity and life.

    Until I saw that you seem to think it was a good thing that you kept the space "graffiti-free for three months", like that's some kind of accomplishment.

    You know, for alot of us who've grown up in the hood, graffiti is the only art we see, a rich and vibrant form, with special value because it's done by locals in our own communities.

    Why would you live in the hood if you wanted it to be the suburbs, clean and polished and pretty? I smell gentrification...