GreenThumb gets no funding from New York City. Here’s what we have to say about that:

“My name is Paula Segal. I am here representing a community-based project called 596 Acres. I am here today to testify for city council funding for community driven parks projects and, specifically city funding for the GreenThumb program.

596 Acres connects communities with land resources around them to enable the formation of community-controlled public spaces where New Yorkers can work together and play together in their own neighborhoods. Our project is a data project — we use maps and hand-made signs to identify unused public land in Brooklyn. Our pilot project, which started by labeling a dozen unused Housing Preservation and Development sites last summer and supporting community members who saw those signs in navigating the existing processes for getting access. Three of those sites are now GreenThumb gardens — the Java Street Garden Collaborative in Greenpoint, Feedback Farms in Gowanus and 462 Halsey Community Gardens in Bedford Stuyvesant.

GreenThumb provides materials and gardening support for gardens on public land. They provided an already-established process for these three community groups to actually open their fences and put public land to use that the people who live right near those lands could control and use for recreation and food production. Without the help and support of GreenThumb, these groups would be going it alone and would likely still be weedy, vacant lots behind fences.

One of the things that I find myself doing a lot as a community advocate through 596 Acres is telling community members not to give up — GreenThumb is swamped. Sometimes materials take a long time to arrive. Sometimes emails take a long time to get answered. City funding for this crucial program that is serving the needs of New Yorkers who want to work together to create community controlled spaces would increase the capacity of the program, and have the effect of increasing the capacity of all New Yorkers to affect the use of our common lands in our own communities.

596 Acres is here today to ask the City Council to use the Parks budget process as an opportunity to add city funding to GreenThumb. Even a small amount of funding added directly from the City budget would immediately increase green space capacity in our neighborhoods, especially those where parks are scarce.”

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