86-year-old NYC woman determined to save once-thriving garden in Harlem

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A New York City woman is determined to save her once-thriving community garden after it was contaminated by chemicals last month.

Riverside Valley Community Garden has been feeding people since Jimmy Carter was president 40 years ago. An 86-year-old neighbor named Jenny said she had to wrestle the city to turn the space into a community garden, and it has blossomed ever since.

"This is my life, that's how important it is," she said Wednesday.

This year, there was a bumper crop until Amtrak came by last month and sprayed chemicals to kill weeds along the tracks -- wiping out everything in the garden.

A summer of work by Jenny and so many others in the neighborhoods was gone. The crops were a total loss and what did survive had to be thrown out because it was contaminated.

However, almost everything can be replanted again next year if the garden gets new, fresh soil.

Amtrak issued the following statement Wednesday:

"After hearing about this incident, Amtrak investigated the claim by visiting the site of the garden with city officials and the licensed landscaping contractor that satisfied all parties. Amtrak assured Jenny's Garden and the Parks and Recreation Department that Amtrak will work with its contractor to take care of the garden and leaf damage to some of the plants. The contractor turned over the documents to the Parks and Recreation Department on the types of chemicals it used and would further asses any damage to the garden. We will continue to work with Jenny's Garden and other partners to investigate the claim and work on a resolution."

Jenny said they have already investigated and what happened is obvious. Now she is impatient.

"Everything is slow and I want to get this done because I want to know if this is contaminated," Jenny said.

Jenny has pulmonary fibrosis and friends say she shouldn't come to the garden because the chemicals are bad for her.

But she says she won't stop.

"Yes I am going down, you know what is bad for me? Staying upstairs," Jenny said.

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