Support a Community Gardens District in New York City’s Historic East Village/Lower East Side

Photo courtesy of Siempre Verde Garden

New York City is known for its unique neighborhood business districts: the Garment District, the Flower District, the Furniture District, the Diamond District–even the Human Hair District (for wigs). These areas are characterized by historically dense populations of related uses, from manufacturing, wholesale, type of craft and/or retail in similar industries or product lines.

Photo by NYC Foodscape

One New York City community group wants to create a new district in New York City: a Community Garden District. And what more fitting location to establish this district than the East Village/Lower East Side neighborhood, the historic home of NYC’s first community garden established by Liz Christy, and at its peak, almost 60 community gardens that sprouted up in vacant lots in the 1970s through today.




Photo by NYC Foodscape

Send Letters of Support to Coalition to Establish a Community Gardens District Before November 30, 2014. 

In a recent email, the Coalition to Establish a Community Garden District is seeking letters of support to bring to Community Board 3’s (CB3) Parks Committee, asking for its support to declare the East Village and Lower East Side–the area that comprises CB3’s purview–New York City’s Community Garden District.  The coalition seeks to have all 47 community gardens in CB3 to either be permanently transferred to parks land or to receive special zoning designation with City Planning that would permanently protect them from development. A hearing before CB3’s Parks Committee to consider the Coalition’s proposal to create a community garden district was originally Thursday, November 13, 2014, but has been postponed until the next meeting of the Parks Committee in December.

With recent threats to community gardens from developers (See, Save Siempre Verde Garden: Another LES Community Garden Threatened with Development) and outright false media attacks about “toxic veggies,” preserving community gardens is more important than ever.  Here’s what the coalition proposes (from their email):

November 15, 2014,

Dear Community Gardeners:

As you know, we have mounted a campaign to establish a Community Gardens District which will include all 47 community gardens located within Community Board 3. For this, we need a one to two page letter of support no later than November 30, 2014, from each community garden in order to show support.

FYI, two major and historic facts lend themselves to such designation.

First, Community Board 3 is where the first New York City community garden was established in 1973 by Liz Christy. She gathered friends and co-founded the Green Guerillas, to claim, clean and build a garden on a vacant lot located on East Houston Street between Bowery and Second Avenue. Originally named “Bowery-Houston Farm and Community Garden”, it is now known as the “Liz Christy Bowery-Houston Garden”. Liz Christy’s story is legendary in the greening community world-wide as she went he went on to replicate her success over and over.

Second, our number of gardens, located in a very narrow slice of Community Board 3, is situated geographically in a way that makes ours the largest density of community gardens in a neighborhood, City, State and, in all probably, the Country.

If you know of another fact we can include to bolster our request, please let us know right away!

At one time there were 57 community gardens licensed by Greenthumb and dozens of others operating on their own in Community Board 3. Today, there are just 47 left. All gardens on land owned by the City of New York are zoned and listed with City Planning as vacant lots, not as community gardens, which continues to leave gardens at risk to development as we have seen in recent months.

We need our gardens to either be permanently transferred to parks land or to receive special zoning designation with City Planning.

As you know, community gardens provide enormous benefits to our community and New York which, along with successes and stories particular to your garden, you might consider including in your letter.

We will have several small meetings over the next few weeks with a large planning meeting scheduled for December 6, 2014. Later, in December, we will go before Community Board 3’s Parks Committee to ask for support for a Community Gardens District in Community Board 3 which is the first step needed to accomplish our goal.

We look forward to receiving you letter which can be emailed, mailed or dropped off. Please call with any suggestions or questions.

Ayo Harrington

Email or send your support letter to:

Coalition to Establish a Community Gardens District
Ayo Harrington
336 East 4th Street, 2B
New York, NY 10009
347 213 2909

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Photo by NYC Foodscape

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