Gardens | December 19, 2023

Over 1.6 Million New Yorkers Live Within a 10-Minute Walk of an NYRP Green Space

Having nature nearby is crucial to improving the quality of life in any given neighborhood. Photo credit: McKenzie Grant-Gordon

How far are you willing to walk to your nearest green space? According to the Trust for Public Land, about a 10-minute walk is a reasonable distance for most people.

Since increasing and improving access to nature is core to our mission at New York Restoration Project, we applied this metric to our 80-acres of parkland and 52 community gardens. The results speak for themselves: as of 2023, over 1.6 million New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of an NYRP park or garden.

Having nature nearby is crucial to improving the quality of life in any given neighborhood. “I have been coming to these Sherman Creek and Highbridge Parks for over 50 years,” says longtime Inwood resident Davia Prego. “I visit them every day and there is not a single part of them I don’t enjoy. It’s my break from living in the city.”

While Davia has fond childhood memories of harvesting wild berries in the parks with her father, she also remembers when the Highbridge and Sherman Creek were at their most polluted and neglected in the 1990s. “I remember when it was a dump. There were cars, fridges, washing machines, carpet. When NYRP started cleaning up almost 30 years ago, I started volunteering.”

Davia has both witnessed and participated in the parks’ transformation under NYRP’s stewardship over time. “This whole park is a different world, and it’s because of NYRP. They have been dedicated to this land for years and the entire quality of life in this neighborhood is better for it.”

Like Davia, Heather Butts also first encountered NYRP’s work by walking through the Northern Manhattan parks we steward. “What first stood out to me about NYRP spaces in particular is how gorgeously maintained they are,” says Heather, an Assistant Professor at Columbia University and co-founder of H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, Inc., a nonprofit organization which focuses on college readiness and preparation. “It’s always been clear to me that somebody has taken a lot of care of these landscapes, from the intentional horticulture to the programming and community engagement.”

Heather has been active in green spaces across the city for years including NYRP’s own Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden in Jamaica, Queens and Westervelt Family and Community Garden in St. George on Staten Island, where she has facilitated events and helped install Little Free Libraries.

What NYRP provides in the neighborhoods where we work stands out to her. “NYRP brings life to communities in ways that are necessary and important,” describes Heather. “I often will talk to people about work NYRP has done that’s been game-changing for improving New Yorkers’ access to and engagement with nature.”

Most recently, Heather applied to our Gardens for the City program to help expand the Skyline Community Garden that she co-founded at NYC Parks’ Skyline Playground on Staten Island. The garden is completely open to the public so that anybody can take fruits and vegetables from it whenever they need or want.

Heather sought to increase Skyline’s food production through this Gardens for the City partnership, which works with community partners in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods to build gardens and other functional green spaces.

“The 10 new beds NYRP built triple the amount of produce we’re able to grow,” she says. “That food will go directly to the community, whether through pantries, food banks, or our own distribution.”


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In addition to deepening longstanding relationships with partners like Heather every year, NYRP also seeks out new connections to help expand our reach in communities that need green space the most.

In 2023, this included teaming up with the Flatbush Library through our Gardens for the City program to build a learning garden in their backyard. “We wanted this garden to be a learning oasis that provides educational opportunities that will engage and enlighten our community,” describes new NYRP partner Narinderpal Chawla, Managing Librarian of the Flatbush branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.


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After NYRP completed in the garden build in April, our Urban Agriculture staff held trainings with the library team to help them make the most of their new space. “Working with the NYRP Urban Agriculture and Gardens for the City teams gave our library the knowledge, resources, and hands-on support we needed to jump start our new learning garden this year,” says Maura Johnson, an Adult Services Librarian at the Flatbush Library.

“It’s been a joy to see our patrons engaging with the library in new, exciting ways in the garden, and we’ve been able to host many new programs for all ages in the space. None of that would have been possible without NYRP. We can’t wait to see our garden grow for years to come.”

Generous supporters like you make NYRP’s work possible. To make a gift and help us ensure that all New Yorkers have green space near home, please click here. Thank you!

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