Willis Avenue Community Garden
Parks & Gardens

Willis Avenue Community Garden


All NYRP community gardens hold a minimum of 20 open hours per week. Please check the bulletin board at the garden for times and details.

Sponsored By
The Perlman Family Foundation

Once a vacant and trash-filled eyesore, this 9,063-square-foot garden – encompassing four city lots – was originally founded in 1997 by members of the nearby Congregational Church of North New York and local residents.

Generous support from the Perlman Family Foundation, in memoriam of Lilian and Abraham Perlman, endowed a transformation, which includes the construction of a new pergola, shed, steel picket fencing, 24 new raised planting beds, expanded butterfly garden, and more. In addition, NYRP’s partnership with TEN Arquitectos, Buro Happold and Urban Air Foundation, generated a unique kit-of-parts design for a modular casita.

Currently a popular garden for neighborhood celebrations, the space provides a rare green space for education, agriculture and entertainment. The community's largely Puerto Rican heritage is visible right on the new, state-of-the-art casita where two large flags proudly hang. 

Conventionally, a casita, or “little house” in Spanish, is a one-story wood frame shed structure popular in gardens for social gatherings in Puerto Rico. Designed by TEN Arquitectos, the new 12 foot by 36 foot casita is the first of its kind and was created with scalable building components that act like Lego pieces, which can be measured, arranged and constructed based on the needs of the community and parameters of the space. As a central hub for activity, the new casita serves as a meeting area in the shade, a food prep station, a performance stage, and so on. For this project, The Home Depot donated the pre-cut materials, as well as a financial donation, matched by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. At a later phase, the casita will be outfitted with Wi-Fi and solar panels to provide light, electricity and online communications—amenities that not only enhance the garden’s everyday functions, but also turn the garden into a center for community preparedness in times of crisis should the neighborhood experience a power outage or be forced to go “off the grid” after a major storm.

The renovation also added a two permeable paver patios, compost toilet, mulched picnic area, regraded lawn, and understory plants surrounding the garden’s border, pathways and birch trees, including hardy passion vine and prairie dock, whose large, lush leaves and color evoke a tropical theme and celebrate the Puerto Rican culture.

Watch the transformation unfold in this time lapse video. 

Garden Size
9063 Square Feet
Compost Toilet, Performance Space, Covered Shelter, Lawn, Barbeque grill
Composting, Gardening fruits and vegetables, Picnicking

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