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NYRP Community Gardens

The cornerstone of New York Restoration Project’s (NYRP) mission and work continues to be the restoration, re-design, maintenance and programming of the organization’s 52 community gardens located throughout New York City’s five boroughs. In today’s urban environment, NYRP’s community gardens provide tranquility where concrete otherwise rules – functioning as village greens, urban farms and outdoor classrooms in areas of the city where public parks or other open spaces do not or simply cannot exist. These oases of much-needed natural beauty not only produce vegetables, herbs and flowers – they also improve the health of neighborhood residents and families, promote community interaction and pride, and bring the promise of local community and economic development.

The roots of community gardens run deep in New York City. In these shared, cherished green spaces, neighbors host barbeques and birthday parties, gather with family and friends, or simply sit, relax or read in the sunshine. Like other greening organizations, NYRP understands the important environmental, social and even economic roles that community gardens play in New York City. But, what makes NYRP unique is our unwavering commitment to restore, maintain and introduce innovative youth and adult educational programming and events in our gardens.

In 1999, a consortium of greening organizations, private and corporate foundations, and concerned New York City residents came together to rescue 114 community gardens, citywide, that were scheduled for auction to developers – a plan that would have, if successful, led to the imminent destruction of some of the city’s most vital green spaces. The sale of these plots would have been a harsh blow to scores of neighborhoods starved for open space, as well as to the spirit of thousands of dedicated community gardeners. In a great victory for a greener New York City, the gardens were saved within hours of the scheduled auction. “Today, I’m prouder than ever to be a New Yorker,” said NYRP founder Bette Midler on the day the agreement was announced.

Shortly thereafter, NYRP took title to 52 of these gardens outright and established the New York Garden Trust, an official subsidiary, to partner with community gardeners to ensure that these plots continue to thrive and forever remain open space. Oversight of the remaining 59 gardens was transferred to The Trust for Public Land.

Today, NYRP’s community gardens – along with gardens owned and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s GreenThumb, The Trust for Public Land, the New York City Housing Authority and others – are enjoyed by residents of all ages, with or without green thumbs, and create a vital network of green, open space across the city. In addition, schoolchildren take part in environmental education activities in NYRP’s four, specially designed learning gardens.