Mother alleges discrimination against autistic son ejected from Boulder County community garden

Boulder, Colarado – Boulder-based nonprofit ‘Growing Gardens’ earlier this month informed Jay Parks 39, who has autism that he could no longer work his plot at the community garden located on Boulder County’s Harney-Lastoka Open Space. He has worked on the plot for the past 5 years.

The Daily Camera report that Growing Gardens wrote to Mr Parks in a letter dated April 18.

“This letter serves to inform you that there has been a documented account of theft of an item by an additional gardener in one of your registered plots,”

It then continues:

“This action is a violation of the probation that was instituted on March 27, and in accordance with our conduct rules, results in suspension from the garden.”

The gardener who was the supposed victim of this theft told Growing Gardens and the Daily Camera that nothing was missing from her plot and believe that no theft occurred.

Jean Kelman, who has been at Kerr Community Garden for two years said:

“Nothing was stolen. I did call the management. I sent them an email. As far as I can tell, it just isn’t true.”

Mitra Brillstein, Parks’ mother believes some leaders within Growing Gardens discriminated against her son because of his autism.

“I want them to never cause this kind of pain and discrimination to another person with autism,”

Growing Gardens Executive Director Vanessa Keeley declined an interview request with the paper but sent the Daily Camera a prepared statement.

From Facebook

From Facebook

“Our Community Garden program is made up of a diverse collection of individuals who create the vibrant ‘community’ in our Community Gardens,” Growing Gardens said. “We work hard to ensure that gardeners of all ages and abilities can participate in our programs. Growing Gardens does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or disability.

“All participants of our Community Garden program are required to uphold the rules and regulations as outlined in the garden rules. Regarding the suspension of Mrs. Brillstein, a theft was witnessed and confirmed, suspension being the resulting consequence as outlined in the garden rules, which are reviewed and signed by each plot owner at the start of each season.”

For the full article access the Daily Camera article by Erica Meltzer here