100 Gardens - Honoring Lys McLaughlin Pike

October 16, 2017

Lys McLaughlin, 1982 at Amboy Neighborhood Garden

Marian Heiskell, GrowNYC’s founder, left, and Lys, right, in 1986 at Brooklyn’s first Lots-for-Tots park/playground.


So many people have contributed to GrowNYC’s commitment to community greening over the years. We could not have reached our 100th garden milestone without them.

Lys McLaughlin Pike was the Executive Director of GrowNYC (formerly the Council on the Environment) from 1978 to 2006. Before Lys became a passionate environmentalist, she traveled extensively. She studied at the Interpreter's School in Rome and classical civilizations at NYU; she worked on archaeological excavations in Israel and Turkey; she did public relations for the Institute for the Arts at Rice University, the Rothko Chapel, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and other arts organizations. At GrowNYC, Lys was instrumental in establishing the Gardens program, Greenmarket, and numerous other programs and projects. Lys was always a trailblazer; in the early 70’s, way before it was popular to do so, she was a champion of cautioning against the use of pressure treated wood, and of the importance of testing soils for heavy metals in edible gardens.

Though she has retired, she has not stopped her conservation efforts. Today she serves on GrowNYC's board. She works on her family’s land in Midcoast Maine, upon which she has placed a conservation easement, and she also serves on the board of the local land conservation group which holds the easement. She is also a member of the local Lakes and Ponds Committee.


This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

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