Our 100th Community Garden - Jackson Forest

October 16, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

Drum roll please…

GrowNYC is proud to announce that we have completed our 100th community garden -- Jackson Forest Community Garden!

 

 

The Jackson Forest site has been home to a garden since 1983. After a building was demolished, the lot was an eyesore – it was a mess and full of trash. The community cleared out the lot and began planting, and the site became a GreenThumb garden in 1991. It flourished – it was full of trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. A true community space, gardeners at Jackson Forest would often leave extra produce near the entrance so neighbors walking by could grab fresh vegetables. In 2008, the garden closed to build a new retaining wall and an iron fence and install a permanent water source. The garden had to be demolished in the process, and the renovations ended up taking longer than expected, while the anxious gardeners had no access to the site.

Jackson Forest Community Garden was recently rebuilt by the GrowNYC Gardens team, along with help from corporate volunteers from BrainPOP, Morgan Stanley, and KPS Advisors. It was a lot of hard work! They mulched, raked, spread soil, and built new garden beds, tables, and benches for community members to enjoy.

The gardeners have been working on getting the garden back up and running and so far have grown cucumbers, okra, peaches, and lots of tomatoes! Students from the nearby school come to take care of their two beds and learn about the science of gardening and composting. Next spring, the gardeners plan to throw a big opening party to welcome the neighborhood back to the garden. In the future, the gardeners hope that Jackson Forest will again be a community meeting space, to offer fresh produce to the neighbors, and to teach classes for children on weekends.

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“Thanks to [GrowNYC staffer] Mike, we have a lot of benches, we have a lot of tables where the community can come sit, read the newspaper, just get in touch with nature.” - community gardener Marie Brook
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GrowNYC is so honored to call the Jackson Forest Community Garden our 100th garden. The dedicated spirit and joy of the community gardeners at Jackson Forest are a shining example of how important places like this are for a neighborhood. Today, this garden’s beauty shows what can be accomplished when we work together! 

You can be proud knowing that all the achievements of our Gardens program were made possible with support from people like you. We never would have been able to do it without help from our many donors, especially the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation. Since September, you helped to raise $41,592 for the New Garden Fund. That’s $11,592 over our goal! You’ve helped establish the foundation for our Gardens program to continue building the NEXT 100 gardens that serve communities like yours all around the city. 

Thank you so much to everyone who believed in our vision and helped contribute! We couldn’t do it without you!

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Want to stay involved? Visit our website to learn more about our Gardens program, find a community garden near you, receive our community gardens newsletter, or sign up to volunteer

 

100 Gardens - Celebrating Liz Christy

August 29, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

This week, we are highlighting the amazing contributions of Liz Christy. Liz Christy was a fierce advocate for neighborhood revitalization through community gardening her entire life. She founded the Gardens program at GrowNYC (formerly the Council on the Environment), where she worked from 1975-1984.

In addition to her work at GrowNYC, Liz founded the Green Guerillas in the 1970s, an urban community garden group that fought urban decay head on by planting seeds anywhere possible - vacant lots, street meridians, abandoned buildings. She helped create the Bowery-Houston Community Farm and Garden (since renamed the Liz Christy Garden) and many other community gardens, and was the first winner of the American Forestry Association's Urban Forestry Award. Liz came to be known as NYC’s “Mother of Gardens.”

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! We are so honored to have Liz Christy as part of our story.

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.

NY Times covers GrowNYC S. Bronx Garden

August 7, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

The New York Times recently profiled several Bronx community gardeners as part of an article about immigrant gardeners and their influence on the increasing number of community gardens being built across the City.  

The Bronx gardeners profiled are all from United We Stand Community Garden, a garden GrowNYC rebuilt in 2016.  

New Garden Build at a NYCHA site in Harlem

May 8, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

 

GrowNYC's garden program recently built a new garden at the New York City Housing Authority's PS 139 Conversion senior housing development in Harlem.

With help from volunteers from Helmsley Charitable Trust, we built 30+ garden beds and moved 20 tons of topsoil, giving the residents of PS 139 Conversion an accessible garden that they'll be able to use for many years to come.

Check out a timelapse of the build below - and let us know if you're interested in organizing a build day of your own!

 

An Interview with Efrain Estrada from United We Stand Community Garden

January 4, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

United We Stand selects

On East 137th and 138th Streets in the South Bronx, four contiguous community gardens flourished for more than 25 years. Hundreds of Mott Haven residents tended to flowers, grew food, and met one another. Then, in 2015, a fire broke out in the neighborhood, burning infrastructure across the garden block. The City was forced to close all four gardens and the site lay dormant.

Starting in February of 2016, the NYC Parks Department’s GreenThumb program began the gargantuan task of rebuilding the entire site. With help from the Department of Sanitation and the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, the site was completely cleared, including thousands of pounds of debris and all the internal fences, and a fresh, vacant lot appeared.

GrowNYC joined the effort in May to restore the space to its previous horticultural glory, building more than 100 garden beds, a performance stage, murals, dozens of tables and benches. In September, we finished work on the new United We Stand and 138th Street Community Gardens. You can see the transformation in the before and after pictures, but let Efrain Estrada, a community garden member, tell the story:

“After the fire, the garden was closed. It was very bad: we had nowhere to garden, nowhere to hang out. It looked like a jungle, with a burned casita, and then people started throwing junk in there.

I felt bad that the garden was gone—I felt like a piece of myself was gone. The garden community is a family and the family didn’t have any place to go. I was close to crying. It was 25 years that we had made that garden and then it was gone. But then I thought, let’s go. It was spring and it was time to go again. Let’s start again. And that is where GrowNYC stepped in.

Working with the community and volunteers, we started rebuilding the entire site in the spring and we finished in fall.

People from the neighborhood say it’s beautiful now. We are proud. The people from the neighborhood see this whole new space on 137th Street and 138th Street. They see the flowers and all the vegetables and they love it.”

4 New Gardens Bloom in NYC

July 5, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's garden program has had a busy first half of 2016! 

Among other things, we've built four new community gardens, totaling 40,000 square feet of new open space.  Here's the skinny:

 

Windmill Community Garden

Windmill Community Garden
A vacant lot in Long Island City - who would have thought? We worked with a great neighborhood association and adjacent school on building out this 2,500 square foot space with raised beds, a shed, and, you guessed it, a windmill!  Lots more to come from this space in the 2nd half of 2016.
 

 

400 Montauk Avenue Community Garden

400 Montauk Community Garden
An existing garden in East New York, Brooklyn that had been extinct for several years, we started the year with a rubble-filled lot and, a few weeks later, had a total renewal - 20 new raised beds, picnic tables and garden benches, and more!  

 

Warwick Street Community Garden

Warwick Street Community Garden
Another extinct community garden in East New York that we worked with a host of community partners on identifying, organizing, designing, and building a new garden on a completely vacant space.  Now features raised beds, picnic tables, a shed, and, most importantly, plants! More info

 

United We Stand Community Garden

United We Stand Community Garden
4 contiguous community gardens flourished for 30 years until they were decimated by fire in the Winter of 2014.  Flash forward to this February, and we'd worked with the garden groups and the Parks Department to tear all the internal garden fences down, clear the entire site, and start working on a design for 1 large united community garden that spans an entire block between 137th and 138th Streets in the South Bronx.  

Halfway through 2016, we've built 50 raised beds, a dozen picnic tables, a new shed, and a pathway linking the two streets.  We can't wait to put the finishing touches on the garden this summer!  

Volunteer Profile: Jonathan Kong

July 4, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

Volunteers are a major source of strength for nonprofits and GrowNYC is fortunate to have the time, effort and talents of so many dedicated New Yorkers. Whether they are corporate groups giving back to the community by helping with a garden build for a neighborhood or school or a single individual who feels passionate about what GrowNYC does, we are extremely grateful.  Want to volunteer with GrowNYC?

Jonathan Kong started volunteering with GrowNYC in 2014, quickly establishing himself as a tireless worker and enthusiastic supporter of all things GrowNYC.  But in 2016, Jonathan has taken things to a new level: Creating and undertaking The Greenmarket Challenge: a quest to volunteer at all 54 Greenmarket farmers markets in 1 year.  

We spoke with Jonathan what inspires him, which Greenmarket is his favorite, and much more:
 

How long have you been volunteering with GrowNYC?

This is my third year.

What is it about GrowNYC that inspires you to work with us?

I really like the environment, working outdoors, getting to interact with the public, doing hands-on activities such as the cooking demos, and learning something new about myself everyday.

Favorite activity when volunteering?

Cooking demos are always fun to do because I get to see the actual ingredients I'm using and use them with the recipe. Outreach is great since I get to see the diversity of people who live in different neighborhoods.

How many different Greenmarket locations have you volunteered at?

So far about 30, but I plan to volunteer at all of them by the end of this year.

Do you have a favorite Greenmarket?

I like Union Square a lot because there's a lot of different activities going on down there and it's really easy to get to. I also have favorite markets for each region: Forest Hills for Queens, Columbia for Upper Manhattan, Tompkins for Lower Manhattan, Fort Greene for Brooklyn, and Parkchester for Bronx.

Favorite fruit and/or vegetable?

I tend to go for tropical fruits like mangos, pineapples and coconuts, but they don't sell them at the markets.

What would you tell someone who was considering volunteering with GrowNYC?

Volunteering with GrowNYC will help you improve your social skills, build confidence in yourself, and feel comfortable working with other people.                                                                                                                         

GrowNYC Builds 7 new gardens in 2015!

December 17, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's garden program had an eventul 2015, full of new gardens, rejuvenations of existing spaces, and several innovative garden projects that help make New York a greener city.

We built 7 new community gardens this year, giving the city 80,000 square feet of new open space.  These new gardens include:

Additionally, our garden program did major rejuvenation projects on 7 community gardens and 1 school gardens, totaling 72,000 square feet of existing green space that was transformed.  All of this work is done alongside great partners, including GreenThumb, 596 Acres, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, FDNY, and New York Botanical Garden's Bronx Green Up.  

Throughout 2015, GrowNYC built 12 new green infrastructure elements in gardens, including:

  • 10 new rainwater harvesting systems, in Crotona Park East (BX) East Harlem (MN), Governors Island, Greenpoint (BK), Mott Haven (BX), and Park Slope (BK).
  • 1 new bioswale, in East Harlem.
  • A new aquaponic shipping container at an urban farm in Far Rockaway.

GrowNYC completed our second year of programming at Governors Island Teaching Garden, an urban farm that provides free educational programming for public schools students and summer camp groups from March to November, as well as holds open hours for the general public on weekends during the general Governors Island open season.  

We made some great additions to our farm space in 2015, including a high tunnel greenhouse, a solar oven, a rain garden, and several rainwater harvesting systems.

This year's Governors Island Teaching Garden programming included:

  • Working with more than 2,500 kids from more than 60 school groups
  • Interacting with more than 5,000 visitors from the general public during weekend open hours.

This fall, GrowNYC helped build T5 Farm at JetBlue's Terminal 5 at JFK Airport.  The 24,000 square foot farm features more than 4,000 recycled milk crates growing blue potatoes - the same variety that TERRA gives away on JetBlue flights - as well as other herbs and vegetables.  T5 Farm was created in collaboration with GrowNYC Partners, a consultancy arm of GrowNYC that returns profits to the mission-based activities of GrowNYC - like the 7 new gardens we built this year.

We also continued our efforts to bring community gardening to affordable housing developments.  2015 marked our fourth year of working at Via Verde, where a 5,000 square foot rooftop garden is enjoyed by the building's residents.  GrowNYC also ran seasonal workshops about gardening, healthy eating, and much more.

In Long Island City, GrowNYC helped to design a 2,300 square foot rooftop farm on top of Queens' newest affordable housing complex, Hunter's Point South. The farm features 13 oversized raised beds and a beehive, and will also host a GrowNYC-run Fresh Food Box for building residents.

We'll be back working at T5 Farm, Via Verde, and Hunter's Point South in 2016, working to continue bringing innovative programming to each one.  We can't wait!

 

Prepare for Possible Weather Events with our Resilient NYC Community Garden Guide

October 1, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

In light of recent forecasts, which include the possibility of Hurricane Joaquin making landfall over the Eastern United States next week, GrowNYC is advising gardeners to consult our 2014 publication Resilient NYC Community Garden Guide

The guide, published in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, is a practical manual on making your garden more resilient, including step-by-step guidelines to minimizing storm damage.

From preventive pruning techniques to ways to secure garden features, we hope this guide will serve as a practical resource for you and your green space.

Get the Guide!

GrowNYC Builds 9 New Rainwater Harvesting Systems

September 11, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

This Spring and summer GrowNYC completed several new rainwater harvesting projects and updated several existing ones.

At Governors Island Teaching Garden, we installed 3 systems from a child sized shade structure that collects into 2 - 5 gallon containers and allows children to open and close valves which divert the flow of water either to the containers, a see through hose or a drain to the adjacent rain garden. 

To collect rainfall from the adjacent former Coast Guard housing, a 500 gallon tank was installed to collect from a large area of roof and two 50 gallon barrels collect from a smaller roof area. A flow meter was installed on the 500 gallon tank to monitor water usage. These installations were completed using funding provided by the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. 6,000 visitors have interacted with the Green Infrastructure projects on Governors Island this season.

At  the Brook Park Community Garden in the Bronx, GrowNYC worked on a week long effort with  community gardeners and volunteers from In Good Company to install 3  new rainwater systems. A 1000 gallon cistern captures rainfall from the downspout of an adjacent home, a 250 gallon tank collects from an existing shed and 2 - 50 gallon barrels store water captured from a chicken coop.

GrowNYC staff worked with 10 youth aged 14 to 18 from Brotherhood Sister Soul in West Harlem to repair an existing rainwater system and install a new system in the Frank White Garden. Each system has 100 gallon storage and collects from existing shade structures in the garden. The youth learned about the New York City combined sewer system as well as getting hands on building experience  developing pollution prevention solutions.

GrowNYC staff completed a shade structure in the Morning Glory Garden in the Bronx which collects rainwater into a 300 gallon tank.

A new 300 gallon tank was installed at the Greenspace on Fourth Garden in Brooklyn. This new garden on land atop a water tunnel access site is a native plant garden where the gardeners installed a rain garden in collaboration with Brooklyn GreenBridge . The overflow from the rainwater system is diverted to the rain garden.

A 1000 gallon rainwater system at the St. John Cantius Garden in East New York, Brooklyn was reconnected to the adjacent building after it had been disconnected due to a change of ownership of the building.

These new and reconnected systems now bring the total number of rainwater harvesting systems in New York City Community Gardens to over 140 systems with the capacity to collect more than 1.5 million gallons of rainfall per year. An interactive map of these gardens and all rainwater harvesting sites can be found here.

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