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News from the Acres - July 14, 2016

14 July 2016
hand built city


Cleaning the office we found this vintage 2012 map of opportunities for community land access on Williamsburg's Southside in Brooklyn. Of the six we identified then, four have been transformed into permanent community spaces by neighbors organizing with our guidance. One became a building, and one remains empty, a scar left by the continued promise of private development on public land. You can support the impacts by donating here

596 Acres would like you and your garden group, block association, business, club and organization to join us in endorsing the Housing Not Warehousing Act. This is a set of bills that will add transparency and accountability to vacant public and private property in our neighborhoods. The bills in the Act: 

  • create a registry that all individuals and corporations holding their property vacant have to enter or pay penalties for failure to register,
  • mandate the City perform an annual count of all vacant property in New York City, and
  • require the City to compile a list of all city, state, federally, and authority-owned vacant property suitable for the development of affordable* housing.

To endorse, send an email with the subject "Endorsing Housing Not Warehousing" to Ryan at our NYCCLI partner organization, Picture the Homeless: *We will still need to work together to make sure this means affordable to the right people, the ones in the neighborhood now.
Rockaway, Queens - Wanda and Joe are gathering letters of support for a Bay-side garden on Beach 84th Street, including this one from our friends at Power Rockaways Resilience. Contact Wanda at (518) 693-9349 to add your organization to the proposal or Organize here:

Crown Heights, Brooklyn - Join Mandy to organize the former Lots for Tots space on Prospect Place near Albany Avenue into a community resource today. Organize here: or contact her directly: or (513) 317-4457.

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Join us for a workshop on Land! Money! Power! in NYC Parkson Wednesday, July 27 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at 30 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Chrystie Streets inside Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Come learn how to take control of our Parks and community spaces. Public parks and public open spaces are among the few places left in an increasingly segregated city that are truly democratic preserves. Here is more about a Lower East Side campaign to re-open a NYC Parks building that 596 Acres has helped revive as a a partner of NYCommons. The Sara D Roosevelt Park Coalition hosts this workshop. As part of our work on this project, we have started documenting un-used and under-used NYC Parks buildings. Check out a preliminary map here and email to add yours!
"Since I started my internship in May, I have gotten a crash course in New York City land policy: learning by doing." Read more from Shannon Pepper, one of our fabulous Summer 2016 teamhere

Design Trust for Public Space is looking for a range of Fellows to help "Open the Edge" at a public housing campus on the Lower East Side. Details are here. Apply by July 28. We are really excited about this project, which is poised to serve as a prototype for getting more New Yorkers engaged with more of our public lands.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Join the fun at new Hooper Park Community Garden (#36!) on Williamsburg's Southside, finally an open space bringing vitality to the neighborhood! They are also on facebook.

Until August, 
596 Acres

Intern Dispatch from Mid-Summer

13 July 2016

Since I started my internship in May, I have gotten a crash course in New York City land policy: learning by doing.

The Gardens Are Community, Community Spaces in Jeopardy Bike Ride! bike tour with Public Space Party took me to Imani, Maple Street, and Elizabeth Street gardens, all of which are fighting for their right to remain community spaces within the city. What has struck me when visiting these is just how different each is, a reflection of the unique collections of people that make up the groups tending the spaces.

I also edited a blog post by Gabriel Park of Java Street Garden about decentralizing control in community gardens. Democratic management of a community space is often much more difficult and time-consuming than simply following a garden monarch. It does, however, make for a more stable and inclusive place, and helps us to imagine where else in our lives and world we could implement systems like these.

I tabled for 596 at a couple of Crown Heights festivals, talking with community members about the spaces in their neighborhoods, oriented them to existing and potential community spaces, and imagined new life for several vacant lots with kids and crayons.

I'm convinced that hanging a sign is a steady, visible way to initiate change and the spread of information. It really works: people read them and respond!

Recently I have been spending time on the Lower East Side (LES), investigating vacant or barely-used buildings in the NYC Parks Department inventory. I started making a map of them. This involved sifting through 3700 rows of data in a spreadsheet downloaded from the NYC OpenData portal to find these buildings. I sorted and plotted and found 11 buildings that could be serving their communities better.

An in-person scavenger hunt using our new map revealed some underused gems. The LES is just one part of a potentially larger map of underused parks-owned buildings in NYC. I’m getting excited thinking about how we can include and visualize public buildings—not just the land they stand on—in our network of public space resources.

Shannon Pepper, Summer 2016 Intern

Shannon hails from the west coast, bringing with her a love of land and hows it shapes and influences the people on it. She holds a B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana. After graduating she walked from Mexico to Canada on the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail and reflected on people and orientation and the importance of a flexible perspective when talking about land ownership. After her hike she lived and worked on a ranch in Washington stewarded by Sacred Earth Foundation, a nonprofit land trust with a mission to teach "children of all ages" how to care for the important land and communities in their lives. A road trip that never ended brought her to Brooklyn, where she works in a butcher shop and became fascinated with urban land use policy and how it relates to gentrification, as well as the importance of public green space to the sanity of all people. She spends her spare time with queer studies, figure drawing, hiphop classes, and walking around her neighborhood.

News from the Acres - June 30, 2016

30 June 2016



Greenpoint, Brooklyn - Java Street Community Garden member Gabriel Park says there are 3 major components you need to “decentralize your organization:” good structure for the group, someone to be the secretary at all times, and clear communication. Read on for specific tips and tricks!

Lower East Side, Manhattan - 596 Acres will join The Stanton Building Task Force of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition at It's My Park Day at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Wednesday, July 6 from 3pm to 6pm. 596 Acres will bring our What Do We Do With Our Land exhibit, which highlights the use of eminent domain and community land trusts to create community controlled land and housing on the Lower East Side. We originally installed this in front of the Stanton Street building in 2015 for the Ideas City Festival. You can listen to the audio pieces at this link, but you will need to come to the festival to experience the energy of the neighborhood!

Sunnyside/Long Island City, Queens - Join us at a GeoNYC Tour to benefit 596 Acres: The Second Renaissance of Railroads to see the past and the future with GeoNYC and the Queens Borough Historian on Tuesday, July 12 at 6pm. Details and RSVP information here

Melrose, Bronx - Support the Hill Street Community Garden plan! The group is gathering letters of support from local organizations. Contact Victor Maldonado at to send yours and become an Organizer here:

Bed Stuy-Bushwick, Brooklyn - We are thrilled to have connected neighbors to the Madison Community Garden, an NYC Parks Department Green Thumb garden ready for re-activation on Madison near Howard. The group will be meeting again during the week of July 11. Get in touch with Ijendu Z. Obasi at GreenThumb - (929) 295 1389, - and sign up to Organize here: The group is also exploring the possibility of reactivating the lot on the corner of Howard and Madison, which was used as a playspace for the neighborhood in 2012 and then shut down without any community input. 

Crown Heights, Brooklyn - The land on Prospect Place near Albany Avenue used to be a Lots for Tots lot - it even still has the murals and equipment in it! But it's no longer managed as one. In fact, the whole Lots for Tots program closed about 20 years ago. A new community space here could take advantage of the nice murals and some of the furniture that is already here. A group could decide to make changes, too! Currently, the land is being held by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. It will need to be transferred to NYC Parks for community stewardship. Become an Organizer here: The next step is to have a meeting with the neighbors and the block association. Here is a meeting announcement template you can use.

Crown Heights, Brooklyn - Call all your elected officials today if you want the City and the State to actively preserve the Roger That! Garden on Park Place and Rogers Avenue before it disappears to make way for four expensive apartments. The only way this garden space will be preserved now is if someone buys it from the developer. The government can do that. Bills have been introduced in theState Senate and Assembly that direct the State Parks Department to do just that. NYC Parks can also step in to save the day! This week call Council Member Robert Cornegy, (718) 919-0740, Assembly Member Diana Richardson, 718-771-3105, and Senator Velmanette Montgomery, (718) 643-6140, and ask them to make acquiring this land for permanent preservation as open space a priority. The community really needs it!
The Bushwick Food Coop is looking for a Part Time Store Manager! Here is the job description for this paid position. Apply ASAP

Design Trust for Public Space is looking for a range of Fellows to help "Open the Edge" at a public housing campus on the Lower East Side. Details are here. Apply by July 28. We are really excited about this project, which is poised to serve as a prototype for getting more New Yorkers engaged with more of our public lands.

The Macktez Summer Stipend is an an opportunity to get $1000 to finish a summer project: We did in 2014 to create signs for lots in active urban renewal areas and to connect folks on the streets to the Urban Reviewer, the first comprehensive and online database of every urban renewal plan that NYC ever adopted that we created to help guide your organizing. This year's applications are due July 23.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Bed-Stuy organizers testified at the Mayor's Office Real Estate Disposition hearing on June 22 in Manhattan, urging Housing Preservation and Development to use the precious public land at 463 Tompkins Avenue to create a true community resource: a garden or housing affordable to people who live in the neighborhood now to be permanently preserved via a community land trust. The City currently plans to transfer the land to a developer who will use it to build four housing units, to be sold to families making up to $106,000 per year. Zoning allows up to 24 units to be built here. The average family living in the Bed Stuy Community District makes approximately $39,000 per year. Contact Council Member Robert Cornegy to ask him to work with the administration on a better plan: (718) 919-0740.

596 Acres

Decentralized Organizing Tips from Java Street, a 596 Acres garden in Greenpoint

28 June 2016

Guest post by Gabriel Park, edited by Shannon Pepper

A Typical Java Street Community Garden meeting

Five steering committee members, plus three or four other members, show up at a bar near the garden. Some get drinks. If it’s summertime, the group will meet in the garden, but for other times of year, having an indoor space with light is nice. It’s not the bar closest to the garden, it’s just the closest bar that’s big enough for 10 people that doesn’t complain too much about bringing kids. Everyone has the agenda, on paper or on their phones or computers; this list of topics was circulated via a garden newsletter about a week before and posted in the garden.

The group discusses things in the order they are listed. Any issues that need to be voted on are discussed, and they try to come up with plans for the next workday. They try to capture in the agenda notes section: who is responsible for what and by when. Every responsibility gets two people assigned to it: one person takes the lead and the other person does the follow up. The meetings usually last about 90 minutes.

Java Street Garden member Gabriel Park says, from his perspective, there are 3 major components you need to “decentralize your organization:” good structure for the group, someone to be the secretary at all times, and clear communication.

Structure: Fool proof or Proof we’re fools?

The first piece of the effective structure at the Java Street Garden is the Steering Committee. The garden has about 30 members. When new members fill out the form to join, it asks them if they want to be on the Steering Committee. Everyone who answers YES gets to be on it.

The garden currently has between 10-14 people on the Steering Committee, who are subdivided into 5 main responsibility areas: Membership, Garden Design, Fundraising, Partnerships, and Secretary/Treasurer. Having at least 2 volunteers in each area keeps people honest and helps prevent personal relationships from interfering with garden business. For example, if a Steering Committee Member who volunteers on Membership has a personal conflict with a Member, someone else is their backup so the Membership volunteer can opt out of the conversation if needed.

Gabriel says, “the easier you can make it to remember the meetings and the work days, the better.” Skip the calendar. Set things up so that they are easy to remember. The Java Street gardeners set all of their meetings to the first Thursday of the month at 7:30pm and all of our workdays to the third Saturday of the month at 10am. This setup gives them time to meet, plan the workday and get necessary supplies lined up *before* the workday. And all announcements and reminders can say the same thing: “Don’t forget the meeting on the first Thursday of next month at 7:30pm!”

The Secretary Rules

It’s key to have someone organizing the agenda and holding a group to their time limits and voting rules. The Secretary at Java Street Garden uses an Agenda/ Minutes tool that the gardeners designed. Anyone can add to the agenda online prior to the meeting. The Secretary updates the document with notes at the meeting, which become minutes. As long as the roles in the document are assigned/agreed upon, the Secretary doesn’t have to do all the work. For Java Street, says Gabriel, having the Secretary as the point person has been the key to making this tool useful.

They don’t have to be fancy or bound or even written down all that neatly--but you need rules on how decisions can be made. In the Java Street garden, the rule is any member can propose a vote by putting it on the agenda at the monthly meeting, if a quorum is present at the meeting. A quorum is how many people you need to have to make a binding decision. Having a clear quorum requirement prevents a few people from making decisions that impact everyone without input. The Java Street gardeners decided to define their quorum as half of the number currently serving on the Steering Committee. This means that if there are 13 people on the Steering Committee, a quorum would be 7 people, but those 7 people present at the meeting could be any active members. The vote is communicated to the Secretary who can help frame it clearly as Yes/ No and facilitate some time before the vote to present different views. Then the vote is taken by a show of hands and the majority wins at the meeting. The Secretary records the outcome in the minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.30.51 AM.png

Java Street has used this process to decide which projects to pursue at the workdays (if they are debatable), as well as when to revoke someone’s membership. It’s not perfect--something they agreed to in May could be proposed again and voted down in June. “However,” says Gabriel, “It’s been great for us in some respects: for example, each November we vote on whether to convert all of our raised beds to community beds or leave 50% of them as ‘private’ beds which are assigned to member volunteers through the lottery process at the February meeting. Even though we may continue to propose and affirm the same practice each year, doing so affirms our majority commitment to the norms we have in place and allows room for change.


Everyone loves to talk about communication, but actually communicating is hard in a decentralized organization. It’s not because people aren’t talking; it’s that people don’t know who to listen to. Everyone has a different idea about what would look nice planted by the front gate, and what’s a weed, and what the license says. “Some tears are unavoidable every year: if you don’t put rocks around it and label what you plant, you are going to cry when someone builds a box on top of it. No amount of shared files or bullhorns will prevent that--you just have to work tissues into the budget.” There are, however, some tools you can use to ease the pain.

Use Google Drive or some other easy file sharing for keeping track of documents that anyone who needs to can get access to. Anyone who emails who wants to join, gets a standard reply from the Membership team that says: “Hi! If you want to join, read this 6 page agreement. If you agree, use a Google Form like this to sign up.” Once someone signs up, they receive a Monitoring Hours Sign Up form. When people show up for their shift, they sign next to their name verifying their attendance. The aim is built in accountability through self-reporting!

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.06.47 AM.png

Having a handwritten project list like this on a clipboard in the garden helps keep a consistent thread of communication going about which garden projects need attention. Keep everyone updated on the happenings with a follow-up like this.

A Newsletter can serve as a hub for all the group document links. Each Steering Committee member can focus on doing their work and someone can make it their business to find out what’s going on and put it in a newsletter. The Java Street garden releases its newsletter on the 15th of each month, and includes links to the Minutes/ Agenda, Monitoring Hours Sign Up Form and Project List / Updates.

Final Thoughts

Accept some pain: Decentralizing will likely mean your garden is not as artistically streamlined as you really want. It will likely mean that it takes weeks of campaigning and infighting to make relatively simple decisions. It could mean some food rots on the vine because no one knew they were supposed to eat it. That sucks. But your disappointments will be shared by your community in a way that centralized gardens usually aren’t. And when hard fought battles are through, you will have better parties. I recently heard Sir David Attenborough on record saying that primates are the best communicators of all living organisms. (Of course we would think so!)


I am not sure I agree, but clearly, we throw the best parties.

Gabriel Park has been part of the Java Street Community Garden since the group formed in 2012. He lives in Greenpoint with his wife, two daughters and two cats.

596 Acres has organizing support material in the form of Community Governance Cards, which provide guidance and activities to facilitate healthy group dynamics. You can purchase them for $10 through the 596 website using Paypal or through Etsy.


News from the Acres - June 16, 2016

16 June 2016

Plant ‘til you’re planted!



Whether you're a community land steward, stuck in the middle of a land access campaign or just curious about how to get started, come get the scoop this Saturday, June 18 from 2:30pm to 4pm. Meet in front of the new Hooper Street Park, at Hooper Street and South 5th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn! 596 Acres Advisory Committee members will lead a teach-in on urban soil and there will be ample opportunity for fellow land advocates to learn from each other's campaigns. Event details here. Facebook event here

Last weekend, Hooper Street Park gardeners had their first official meeting! This lot was designated as Open Space in the Southside Urban Renewal Plan in 1992, and has been waiting ever since. The land was vacant for decades before that as well but in 1940 it was a synagogue. We are glad to be reactivating this corner of the neighborhood as a gathering place in partnership with the El Puente Green Light District, NYC Parks GreenThumb and GrowNYC's Open Space Greening program. Get involved by emailing, connecting on facebook, or signing up as an Organizer here:

Bed Stuy-Bushwick, Brooklyn - Neighbors have a vision for a Hip Hop Garden in the area. Join them and 596 Acres staff this Friday, June 14 at 4pm in front of the vacant lot on the corner of Howard Avenue and Madison Street to explore options. This vacant public lot in inventory of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services may become the target of organizing. We will also visit the nearby Madison Community Garden, an NYC Parks Department Green Thumb garden which is open for new members. Get in touch with Lya of Beats, Mind ‘n Alive at or (929) 428-4287, or sign up as an organizer here to plug in:

Staten Island - This Saturday, June 18 at 9am, Harry and fellow gardeners are meeting NYC Park's Department's GreenThumb staff in front of a vacant lot on Sand Land near Humbert Street to finalize plans for the garden here! The Community Board is in support and neighbors have been waiting patiently since 2014 to make their garden dreams come true; this is the final step before Parks accepts jurisdiction! Come meet your neighbors and join them in making their plan for a garden here real. Sign up as an organizer here:

Bed Stuy, Brooklyn - For the last several years, 596 Acres has been supporting neighbors advocating for the transfer of two long-vacant lots on Tompkins Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn from NYC Housing Preservation and Development to NYC Parks to create a community garden. With no accessible public review or notice to the local community, the city is now poised to give these lots to a private developer for the construction of housing that most residents of the neighborhood will not be able to afford. Necessary hearings have not been completed and the contract has not been signed, yet work has already started on the site. Join organizers on Wednesday, June 22 at 10am at 1 Center Street in Manhattan on the Mezzanine to testify against the land give-away. 596 Acres' Paula Segal's article about the situation and the de Balsio administration's response are in City Limits this week; read themhere. A guide to testifying is here. It's easy! In the words of a neighbor and organizer, “This kind of informative response is what makes a difference in a community that has been some what uninformed and seemingly at times in the dark.”

Rockaway, Queens - A community garden is coming to Beach 84th Street on the Bay Side! Last week, Paula helped Wanda start writing a proposal for the transfer of a decades-vacant lot to NYC Parks where it can become a community space. Wanda will be getting letters of support and having a meeting for future gardeners in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the meeting announcement, or get in touch now to help: 518-693-9349 or; or sign up as an Organizer here:

Melrose, Bronx - The design for Hill Street Garden, which will replace a sloping vacant lot on E 159th St between St Ann's & Eagle Ave in the South Bronx, is almost done! On Sunday, June 5, neighbors reviewed the plans that their design team drew up after envisioning together last month. The plan includes community event space, places for neighbors to relax, and an outdoor classroom for children. Check out the progress, look at the plan, see photos, and get in touch with neighbors here: If you have ties with organizations in the South Bronx, we are looking for letters of support to add to our deck. Contact Victor Maldonado at so much to our pro bono design team for all your work so far! 
Harlem, Manhattan - This Saturday, June 18 from 3pm to 6pmSaint Nicholas Miracle Gardenon 125th St and St. Nicholas Avenue is having a big day of garden music! Featuring performances from Shu Nakamura & the Ninjas, Anand GanSuzanne Davenport & the Violin Femmes, the Ninja Academy of Music, with many other special guests. Come join us for a day of MUSIC. COMMUNITY. EDUCATION. FUN. More information here.

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - This Saturday, June 18 from 12pm to 3pm,  Artfully Unforgotten: Color Your Story is coming to 462 Halsey Community GardenDoes the color yellow remind you of a special time you baked a birthday cake with your mom? Choose a color and use different materials from that color to create a picture of a memorable moment that the color reminds you of! More information at Family friendly!

Long Island City, Queens - This Sunday, June 19 from 10am to 5pm, join Smiling Hogshead Ranchers for a composting bike tour of queens! We will start at 10am at the Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St (use the Parking Garden entrance on Blossom Avenue). We will visit 5 sites before ending with an evening cooldown and picnic at Smiling Hogshead Ranch, 25-30 Skillman Ave, at approximately 3:30pm. Please RSVP to More event information here.

Rockaway, Queens: Free yoga at Edgemere Farm at Beach 45th Street Community Farm withmigenteyoga every Wednesday at 9am! Photo here. All levels and abilities welcome! ✨✨

Bedstuy-Bushwick, Brooklyn - This Saturday, June 18 at 6pm, gather for another free summer concert at The People's Garden! This time it’s ROCKERS' UNDERGROUND, featuring Top Shotta Band, The Far East, Radio Daze, Crazy Baldhead, with local homemade food. All events are all ages, free and community friendly! This is part of a monthly concert series, a collaboration between The People's Garden and Consumata Sonidera, to bring together the community of Bedstuy, Bushwick and NYC through the love of music! Event information here. Promo videohere.

Harlem, Manhattan - This Sunday, June 19 from 10am to 1pm at Park Ave and 118th, join gardeners of Lydia’s Magic Garden in a bit of cleanup, weeding, and reviewing proposed garden design!

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Next Friday, June 24 from 4pm to 7pm, join FABNYC for Clinton Street Fest! Celebrate the vibrant culture and commerce of Clinton Street with an afternoon stroll through local businesses and one-of-a-kind artist interventions. Experience the energy of this diverse business corridor through music, poetry, storytelling, performances, and pop up shops! Open to the public of all ages. The event will feature discounts and tastings at select Clinton Street businesses, with drink specials at Donnybrook NYC. Check out the full program here.

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Children’s Magical Garden at 129 Stanton St on the corner of Norfolk St is offering a free 5 week summer camp for kids ages 7 to 12 from July 11 to August 12, Monday to Friday! Free to all! Super fun outdoor environmental education activities will include growing fresh and healthy food and herbs in the garden and and team-building through nature games. More information here. To get an application, contact Feng Chen or (646) 732-9462.

Harlem, Manhattan - The Harlem Rose Garden, on E 129th St between 5th Ave and Madison, is welcoming new members! Get involved by emailing

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Girl Scouts in the Maple Street Community Garden last week. El jardín está abierto!

In solidarity,
596 Acres

News from the Acres - June 2, 2016

01 June 2016

Don’t go through life, GROW through life!


Melrose, Bronx - On Sunday, June 5 at 10:30 am, future Hill Street Gardeners will be meeting in the Community Room at 820 St. Ann’s Ave, right next to the hill, to see plans produced by 596 Acres' pro bono design team based on the visioning session we hosted last month. Join them! Contact Victor (, 718-665-4281) to get involved or connect with neighbors here:

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - Join neighbors (pictured above) organizing to transform the vacant lot at Malcolm X and Chauncey Street on Monday, June 6 at 7pm at Brooklyn Community Board 3's general meeting at Restoration Plaza, 1360 Fulton Street. Contact Shadel at and sign up to become an organizer here:  

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - In 1968, the City planned the vacant lots that reach from Rochester Avenue to Suydam Place between Herkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue as a future Park & Playground in the Central Brooklyn Urban Renewal Plan, but neighbors are still waiting. Let’s make it real! One said to us last week, “I believe that they would make a spectacular Park for the entire block and community to enjoy.” Let's make it so! Contact Chopp (, 904-405-6291), Denise (, 917-601-4877) or one of the other organizers who shared their contact information on the lot’s page – – you too can sign up to organize!

Staten Island - On Saturday, June 18 at 9am, Harry and fellow gardeners are meeting NYC Park's Department's GreenThumb staff in front of a vacant lot on Sand Land near Humbert Street to finalize plans for the garden here. The Community Board is in support and neighbors have been waiting patiently since 2014 to make their garden dreams come true; this is the final step before Parks accepts jurisdiction! Come meet your neighbors and join them in making their plan for a garden here real. Sign up as an organizer here:

Join 596 Acres, the Urban Justice Center Community Development Project, Common Cause/NY and the Let's Rebuild Cromwell Community Coalition on Wednesday, June 8 from 7pm to 9pmat Brighton Heights Reformed Church, 320 St. Marks Place. 

We are hosting this workshop to educate neighbors about the pending Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) application by the Department of City Planning to approve the disposition of public health center on Stuyvesant Place, this parking lot on Central Avenue, and the Jersey Street Garage, all currently public real estate assets, to private developers; also in DCP's application is the Bay St Corridor Rezoning, which includes the potential transfer a stretch of City-owned water front, a potential park on Front Street, to a developer for building housing towers. Find out more information and sign up as an Organizer on any of the pages linked above or connect with Let's Rebuild Cromwell Community Coalition on facebook or by

The City's Scoping Hearing, at which key decisions about these proposed actions will be made, will be on Wednesday, June 15 at 6pm at 309 Saint Pauls Ave., Staten Island. Save the date to come out and be heard by the City officials who work for us! 

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - This Saturday, June 4 at 11am, help Myrtle Village Green gardeners build tables, turn compost, move dirt and plant flowers! The garden is located on Myrtle between Franklin and Kent. Stay connected on the MVG facebook, here.

Brownsville, Brooklyn - Also Saturday, June 4 from 1pm to 4pm, high school youth from the Nature Conservancy and East New York Farms! internship programs will be having a community work day to reactivate the newly revived Warwick Greenery Glow Garden, on Warwick Street between Blake and Dumont. They would love and welcome local residents from the neighborhood and Warwick Street to help and get plugged into the long-term stewardship of the space! Come by on Saturday at 1pm if you're interested! Contact Milton (718-564-3013) or Miguel (347-500-9945).

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - The Fresh Food Box returns to 462 Halsey Community Garden on Saturday, June 4 where you can get a $12 deal for an assortment of fruits and vegetables each week. Fresh Food Box is an initiative offering weekly bags of locally-grown fruits and vegetables in collaboration with GrowNYC. More information here.

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - Also starting this Saturday, June 4 at 10amPatchen Community Square, on the corner of Patchen and Putnam, is starting a Fitness and Gardening Workout class every other Saturday. Join them! More information here.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn - Java Street Garden's annual Spring into Summer party is next Saturday, June 11! Stop by Java Street between Franklin and West for a bite, to take a chance on a raffle prize or to listen to some music. The garden is looking lovelier each day, we hope to see you out there! More information here.

Jamaica, Queens - Join the Rochdale Village Library Learning Garden Project to help plan a new mini-botanical garden on the library grounds and learn about garden design! They will meet on Saturday, June 11, 1-2:30pm, 169-09 137th Avenue, Jamaica, Queens. 

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

On May 23, Merrick Marsden Community Garden in Jamaica, Queens finally reopened as protected open space! It has been serving the community since 1967, but was recently threatened with extinction by the Tax Lien Sale – though tax debt should have never been owed on this not-for-profit owned property in the first place. The property was saved by a local fundraising frenzy and because of 596 Acres, which referred the local organization to Mohen & Segal LLP to defend a foreclosure action brought by the Tax Lien Trust, and then in a transfer of the property to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust in January 2014. 

596 Acres' Paula Segal explains in a CityLimits editorial how the lien sale puts community land at risk. Sign the petition asking the Mayor to keep community property and vacant land out of the tax lien sale here

It's working!
596 Acres

News from the Acres - May 20, 2016

20 May 2016

Community gardens are not only places to grow fresh food and enjoy the great outdoors with your neighbors. They are also prime locations for pop-up libraries, shows, art-making, meal-sharing, and all kinds of educational and cultural programming that make communities vibrant and strong. Take 462 Halsey Community Garden, pictured above - a Bedstuy community space, formed by neighbors with help from 596 Acres, that hosted The Free Black Women’s Library on Mother's Day! (Photo by Murray Cox; more photos here.)

Jamaica, Queens - Merrick Marsden Neighbors Association Garden II is having a grand re-opening tomorrow, Saturday May 21 from 10am to 3pm! In 2013, 596 Acres helped the Merrick Marsden Neighbors Association (MMNA) secure this property in the face of havoc wrought by the City's dastardly tax lien sale. The property is now owned by the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust where it will be preserved as open space in perpetuity and stewarded by MMNA. More info here. Please RSVP to Samuel Belton at 347.579.7564

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - After a years-long campaign, decades of vacancy will be transformed into vibrancy in the Southside as Hooper St. Park Garden! This lot was planned as Open Space through Urban Renewal in a plan adopted by City Council in 1992 - which we have finally brought into being through facilitating relentless local organizing. The lot was just transferred to the NYC Parks Department and can now become a community garden! Contact Robert at to get in on the garden-making fun.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - 9 Moffat Street has arrived at greener pastures! Last year, this lot would have been auctioned off by the City to a private developer if not for our intervention. It was just transferred to NYC Parks and can now become the garden neighbors have been dreaming up! Add your dreams: contact Celeste of Council Member Espinal's Office at 718-642-8664 or

This brings us to 36 vacant lots transformed by neighbors with support from 596 Acres!Help us support community land access advocacy where it is most needed by donating.

JOIN US THIS SUNDAY #eminentdomain4good 
This Sunday, May 22 from 3pm to 7pm, 596 Acres will be at El Jardin del Paraiso’s Mudball Ball on E 5th St between Aves C & D in Manhattan. Come listen to the audio documentary we made last year in collaboration with El Jardin’s founding members in the garden itself while marveling at old photographs from a founding gardener’s collection. The documentary highlights the use of eminent domain to preserve the emerging garden in the 1990s. Today, communities are asking for the use of eminent domain to protect their vital spaces. You can support current campaigns to protect and preserve beloved garden paraisos; Imani Community Garden in Weeksville, Maple Street Community Garden in Prospect-Lefferts, and Roger That! community garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn will be featured. Event information here and details here. Get a head start by signing this petition supporting Maple Street Community Garden.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - Your neighbor Wesley is developing a plan to transform a vacant public lot on Dekalb Avenue between Evergreen and Myrtle into a community garden! This weekend, he is gathering neighbors and taking next steps: collecting signatures to show the City that residents want this lot transformed, and creating a proposal for a garden on this lot. This is a great opportunity! Contact him at or 317-698-5224; or, sign up as an organizer here:

Bushwick, Brooklyn - Neighbors contacted us about a vacant lot in their neighborhood - on Stockholm Street near Evergreen Avenue. While the lot has been selected as a potential site of housing development, so far nothing has moved forward and it may be possible to make it into a community space. The next step: create a campaign that will convince the Parks Department that your community group will be successful stewards. Get involved by signing up as an as an organizer here:

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - In response to our signs, a neighbor called us interested in what options there are for the vacant lot in her life and what the next steps would be. We told her to begin witha petition that neighbors can sign to let the City know they want this lot transformed. Next steps? Put together a proposal for this lot and win the support of the local community board. For a successful proposal, about ten neighbors need to sign up as future volunteers. Become one of them by signing up to organize here:

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - It might be time to revive efforts to create a garden on a big vacant lot on Lafayette near Tompkins Avenue. Previous plans have been foiled by the Community Board's desire to see affordable housing developed there, but that is not so straightforward. We just got a note from another interested neighbor. Our sense of the political climate at this time is that a temporary garden is not possible - HPD has stopped allowing temporary agreements - but a permanent one might be. Several neighbors have posted their email addresses and phone numbers here so you can get in touch to make it happen: 

Bedstuy/Crown Heights, Brooklyn - Your neighbor Shadel is putting together a proposal for transforming a vacant lot at Malcolm X Blvd and Chauncey Street into a community garden! Meet in front of the vacant lot next Saturday, May 28 at 11am, email Shadel at, and/or sign up to become an organizer here:

Harlem, Manhattan - Your neighbor Kimbley just joined other neighbors in a campaign to create a garden on a vacant lot on W 137th Street between Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X Boulevard! They are gathering signatures to tell the City that residents want this lot transformed into a public space. Next steps: putting together a proposal for a garden! Contact Kimbley at or 646-662-6503, Seth at and Leora at or 917-337-0147. Join them in signing up as an organizer and track progress here:

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Next Wednesday, May 25 from 5pm to 7pm, Siempre Verde Garden is hosting a Lower East Side History Month Event: Come Protest the Great Meat Boycott! The Great Meat Boycott took place in May 1902 in the Lower East Side and was the first consumer boycott in America; 20,000 women took to the streets to protest the sudden increase in meat prices of meat monopolies, succeeding in getting the monopolies to lower their prices. “We’ll be remembering these ladies fondly and loudly.” More info here.

Harlem, Manhattan - Starting on Wednesday, June 1St. Nicholas Miracle Garden at 127th St and Malcolm X will be a new NYC Compost Project food scrap drop-off site hosted by Harlem Green and the Lower East Side Ecology Center! Wednesdays from 8am to 11am. More information here. The garden is also looking for more performers for its garden music series! More information here.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Keap Fourth Community Garden at Keap and South 4th Street is hosting free live music for kids (ages 0-4) every Tuesday at 10am, all season long!

Ozone Park, Queens - Pitkin Community Garden on Pitkin and 87th Street is having a garden planning meeting next Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 to 9pm at the Nativity Church, 101-41 91st Street, Corner of Rockaway Blvd. More information on Living Lots NYC, here.

Little Italy, Manhattan - This Saturday, May 21 at 1:30pmElizabeth Street Garden is hosting the NYC Kids Project Puppet Show! At Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring Streets. Grab a picnic lunch and join for a free outdoor puppet show on disability awareness, anti-bullying and character development. Run time is 45 to 55 minutes; best for grades 2 to 6. More information here.

Bedstuy-Bushwick, Brooklyn - Monthly free summer concerts at The People's Garden start nextFriday, May 27 at 6pm! Come hear CUMBIA DEL BARRIO VOL. IV, R-Tronika, Consumata and DJ Kill DJ and enjoy food from Traze. This is the first in a monthly series, a collaboration between The People's Garden and Consumata Sonidera, to bring together the community of Bedstuy, Bushwick and NYC through the love of music! Event information here. Promo videohere.

The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project (HKFP) is seeking a Summer Youth Farm Educator for a pilot youth internship program on their rooftop farm in Hell’s Kitchen! Applications are due next Friday, May 27, interviews will be in early-mid June, and the are looking to hire immediately. This is an exciting opportunity to design and implement a dynamic curriculum and special programming for local high school students focusing on urban agriculture, food and social justice. Full information here. HKFP is also looking for youth residing or attending high school in the Chelsea/Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen community interested in participating in this paid internship program! Applications are due by May 30. Full information here.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Neighbors signed up to support a community garden that will replace a vacant lot on Malcolm X Blvd and Chauncey Street last weekend at the Community Mediation Fair in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. More photos here. Join in the campaign by meeting in front of the lot next Saturday, May 28 at 11am, by emailing Shadel at, and/or by signing up to become an organizer here: 

With gratitude,
596 Acres

Release: Communities Propose Eminent Domain to Save Gardens Threatened by Private Development

19 May 2016

NEW YORK, NY -  It’s time we ask ourselves: “How can we have eminent domain for the Barclays Center and not have eminent domain for the constituents of the community?” 

This Sunday, March 22 from 3 to 7pm, 596 Acres will present a pop-up exhibition on #eminentdomain4good at El Jardin del Paraiso, a sprawling Parks Department community garden in the Lower East Side at 5th Street between Ave. C & D in Manhattan.

Photographs from the garden’s founding and an audio documentary made last year by 596 Acres for What Do We Do With Our Land? for the New Museum's IDEAS CITY Festival, in collaboration with founding gardeners, will be on display. Stories from other gardens in New York City that are perfectly suited to become new Parks, including Imani I Community Garden in Weeksville, Maple Street Community Garden in Prospect Lefferts and Roger That! Garden in Crown Heights, will also be shared, along with opportunities to support gardeners’ campaigns to preserve them through #eminentdomain4good.

Since at least 1807, eminent domain has been used to create New York’s parks and open spaces. El Jardin del Paraiso is among Prospect Park, Central Park, Astor Place and over 350 other condemnations for the creation or preservation of parks and open spaces that have been recorded in New York’s county courts. As El Jardin del Paraiso’s story shows, eminent domain can facilitate the preservation of value that residents create by transforming vacant lots into community spaces.

kids at paraiso.jpgchildren.JPG

L: Making Paraiso, roughly 1981. Courtesy of Howard Brandstein. R: An excerpt from Lower East Side Gardeners’ proposal to preserve open space, presented to Community Board 3 in 1982. Lower East Side Gardeners served a constituency of over 200 people from different Lower East Side gardens. Courtesy of Howard Brandstein.

El Jardin del Paraiso, a meadow-like green space in the dense Loisaida (Alphabet City), was created by local residents in 1981 out of series of empty lots, some owned by the City and some owned by private entities. Homesteaders, gardeners, artists, religious leaders, the Junior League, and the principal of P.S. 15, worked together to advocate for the expansion and preservation of the garden as a permanent park. The group convinced the City that El Jardin was perfectly situated to become a new park for the Lower East Side in a part of the neighborhood badly served by the existing green spaces. During the 1990s, the City condemned three lots that it did not then own that divided the space using eminent domain, making the park whole. 

Imani I Community Garden in Weeksville, Brooklyn has similar beginnings: neighbors got together to provide themselves with the services they needed – in this case, with open green space and fresh food – in a neighborhood full of holes. Now, over 40 years since its founding, eminent domain may be the only way to save this garden from being permanently ravaged by the City’s illegal sale of tax debt, that should have never been owed in the first place, to private speculators. It's a tough one to explain to the generations of gardeners who have been caring for the space for decades since it was created by Parishioners of Our Lady of Charity, the first black Catholic congregation in the diocese, in 1974. To keep the garden whole, the City or State government can buy the property from the private owner and turn it over to the NYC Parks Department GreenThumb program for continued management by volunteers. 

MAPLE STREET.pngsave maple street pic.jpg

Maple Street Community Gardeners organize in Fall 2015. Photos by Paula Z. Segal (R) and courtesy CUNY Law School/Public Square Magazine (L).

Maple Street Community Garden, in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, has recently become a poster-child for the kind of trickery and fraud that accompanies real estate booms. The story of its creation is familiar: neighbors got fed up with the vacant lot on their block and, with no accountable owner in site, they began to clear out the impressive garbage that had collected in the summer of 2013. They built raised beds and planted flowers and vegetables. In 2015, State Senator Jesse Hamilton and Assembly Member Diana Richardson introduced bills in the NYS Senate and in the Assembly to preserve the Maple Street Community Garden through eminent domain. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for attendees to support the bills and to petition the Mayor, City Council and NYC Parks directly.

Roger That garden, Summer 2015. Photo courtesy Roger That! Garden.

Roger That! Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is another garden in jeopardy that can be preserved through #eminentdomain4good. Assembly Member Richardson and Senator Velmanette Montgomery have also introduced bills aimed at protecting the Roger That! Garden as parkland.

At the event this Sunday, visitors will listen to the histories, see the photos, send letters, and find out more about 596 Acres’ community land access advocacy program. This exhibition is part of El Jardin del Paraiso’s Mudball Ball.  If we can use eminent domain for El Jardin del Paraiso under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, we can certainly continue to use it for the little bits of green paradise that neighbors have created in their neighborhoods in Brooklyn today. 

Further Reading & Listening


El Jardin del Paraiso from the audio documentary What Do We Do With Our Land? -- annotating community land stewardship on the Lower East Side for the New Museum IDEAS CITY Festival:


On 596 Acres’ organizing map, Living Lots NYC:

“How a Gentrification Scam Threatens New York’s Community Gardens” by DW Gibson, The Nation, Oct. 20, 2015:

“Pol Proposes State Seizure Of Disputed Brooklyn Community Garden” by Nathan Tempey. Gothamist, Oct. 25, 2015: 

“There Goes the Neighborhood, Episode 6: Trickery Fraud and Deception” by The Nation, WNYC Studios, and Kai Wright. The Nation, April 13, 2016:

Petition for New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene: Get New York City to preserve Maple Street Community Garden 

New York State Assembly Bill A8569 (2015-2016 Legislative Session): 

New York State Senate Bill S6073 (2015-2016 Legislative Session):   


On 596 Acres’ organizing map, Living Lots NYC: 

“3 Beloved Brooklyn Community Gardens Win Important Victories” by Nathan Tempey. Gothamist, Nov. 18, 2016: 

New York State Assembly Bill A8583 (2015-2016 Legislative Session): 

New York State Senate Bill S6093 (2015-2016 Legislative Session): 


On 596 Acres’ organizing map, Living Lots NYC: 

“CityViews: Stop the Tax-Lien Sales That Will Destroy Community Gardens” by Paula Segal. CityLimits, May 10, 2016: 

Press Contact

Mara Kravitz, Executive Assistant,, 718-316-6092 ext. 3

Take Community Property and Vacant Land Out of the NYC Tax Lien Sale

07 May 2016

The City of New York is poised to sell liens on community property and vacant lots in our neighborhoods to private speculative trusts next week. This is how the City gives up its leverage over properties where taxes have not been paid and allows community property to disappear. We have written about this before. We have struggled and saved gardens owned by New York City's community-based organizations poised to enter the sale, and in foreclosure after itSometimes we have lost; we watch decades-old gardens disappear.

Now it is time to act. 

Let's make this the first year in 20 when gardens, churches, day care centers and vacant lots in our neighborhoods are removed from the sale. Read and sign our petition to Mayor Bill de Blasio here. Then call 311 on Monday and ask the operator to let the Mayor's staff know that you want all charity institution properties and vacant lots to be removed from Thursday's sale. 

The petition text is below. Please sign it


On May 12, 2016, the City of New York is poised to give private speculative investors leverage over hundreds of properties in all five boroughs via the Department of Finance Tax Lien Sale.

By selling the right to collect unpaid taxes on community gardens, churches, day care centers and other key places owned by community-based charity organizations, the City puts all these places at risk of foreclosure by the private debt collectors and the transformation of these key institutions into private residential development.

By selling that right for vacant lots in the same transaction, the City gives up its power over the future of our neighborhoods and transforms unpaid property taxes into a “private” debt to be enforced by private debt collectors.

We, the undersigned, urge you to take all properties owned by Not-for-Profit Corporations and other charitable institutions entitled to be free from paying property tax under the New York State Constitution out of next week's tax lien sale. We urge you to remove all properties, including those that appear on the May 2, 2016 Final Not-For-Profit Non-Responders List and uncountable others around the City that are poised to enter the sale but do not appear on the posted list, like the Garden of Youth in the Bronx.

In addition, we, the undersigned, urge you to remove all vacant lots from next week's tax lien sale. Allowing private debt to compound the pains of neighborhoods that have been abandoned by absentee property owners will not lead to responsible development of gardens, community centers and housing. The City's retaining leverage over these properties is key for NYC communities.

Finally, we urge that, once removed from the 2016 Tax Lien Sale, all properties that are determined to be not needed by City agencies to fulfill public purposes be directed to the Third Party Transfer program and reserved for transfer to stable Not-For-Profit organizations and/or community land trusts.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter,


Please sign.

News from the Acres - May 7, 2016

07 May 2016
slow as turtles (and just as persistent) 

The battle for the preservation of Bushwick's Eldert Street Garden continues. This week we challenged the illegal sale of the land in court. Full details in DNAinfo. For over two years, 596 Acres coordinated defensive and affirmative legal actions, recruited and managed pro bono help and continues to support permanent preservation - all while the garden continues to thrive! Donate to support continued community land access advocacy where it is most needed. And join us at Eldert Street Garden (315 Eldert Street) tomorrow, May 8, for a Mother’s Day Spring Celebration, 2pm until sunset! There will be a BBQ, live music, crafts for kids, planting, painting and a flower sale! 

The City of New York is poised to sell liens on community property and vacant lots in our neighborhoods to private speculative trusts next week. This is how the City gives up its leverage over properties where taxes have not been paid and allows community property to disappear.We have written about this beforeNow it is time to act. Let's make this the first year in 20 when gardens, churches, day care centers and vacant lots in our neighborhoods are removed from the sale. Read and sign our petition to Mayor Bill de Blasio here. Then call 311 on Monday and ask the operator to let the Mayor's staff know that you want all charity institution properties and vacant lots to be removed from Thursday's sale

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - Neighbors who saw our signs are organizing to transform the vacant lot on Malcolm X and Chauncey Street. Shadel is planning to gather signatures in support of transforming the space this week. Join her! Connect by email at We made you a petition you can use. Become an organizer here:

Melrose, Bronx - There is a wonderful opportunity to transform a vacant lot at E 161st Street and Melrose Avenue into something better - and neighbors are just beginning to mobilize (click for detailed directions). We created a petition you can use to show the City that the residents of the South Bronx want to transform this space; get it here and hit the streets to gather signatures. Contact Freddy, or 3472462690 to coordinate; or sign up to become an organizer here:

Rockaway, Queens - A prototype Community Labyrinth arrived at Beach 78th Street and the boardwalk this week! Organizer Nancy's years of perseverance is bringing a meditative and healing space to a neighborhood that really needs it. Contact Nancy to help transform the temporary installation into a permanent fixture in the coming years: NYC Parks Department has embraced the vision but will need our help to find the support it needs to create a permanent installation. Check out the photos and sign up to organize here:

Long Island City, Queens - The Cutoff Coalition's vision for the newly abandoned rail line next toSmiling Hogshead Ranch is now online. Check out and share our vision for the future: a self-powered urban farm and resiliency lab, featuring innovative green infrastructure, landscaped common spaces, and economic development opportunities to form a thriving ecology that brings together nature, community, and industry:

Flushing, Queens - Organizers of a future Corona community garden made the news! Check them out In the New York Post here then become a future garden member by contacting Alishia, or (718) 600-0121; you can also sign up to Organize here:

Harlem, Manhattan - Margrichantie Memorial Garden on W 133rd near Adam Clayton Powell is already in the Parks Department inventory and intended as a permanent community space, but it needs new stewards to help it thrive. NYC Parks plans to hold a meeting for interested community members next Saturday, May 14, from 11am to 1pm at the garden. Join them in person or sign up as an organizer here:

Bedstuy, Brooklyn - Free Black Women’s Library, Mother’s Day Edition tomorrow, Sunday, May 8 from 12pm to 5pm at 462 Halsey Community Garden! (Last week’s event was postponed.) More information about the pop-up library is here. Check out 462 Halsey's new website here.

Long Island City, Queens - On Tuesday, May 10 from 5pm to 9pm at Smiling Hogshead Ranch's Terrific Tuesday & documentary film shoot. Join in tackling some chores, enjoying a potluck style family meal and shooting footage for a documentary at the Ranch. More information here

Community gardener Helen Avery has been working with the Parks Department to create print maps of Lower East Side Community gardens. Pick one up at Siempre Verde Garden on weekends!

The New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative, which 596 Acres helped to incubate, is refining a rating system or evaluating whether a project is one we want to finance. See a preliminary draft here. Members and future members are invited to a public forum to discuss how to make this better on Tuesday, May 10 at 7pm at the Sunview Luncheonette, 221 Nassau Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY 11222. G to Nassau, then about a 10 minute walk.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Does your community garden need help with a specific project? Habitat for Humanity NYC’sBrush with Kindness program may be able to offer volunteers and materials for painting, planting, or light “fix-up” work (i.e. building raised beds or other simple structures, minor landscaping) in your garden or community space. They supervise volunteers and provide materials to complete specific multi-day projects ranging from one day to four weeks (the typical project is two weeks). Contact Anna Darling at describing the specific scope of work. You will work together to determine if the project is a good fit for their program.

The City Park Foundation's Partnerships for Parks’ Capacity Fund Grant is due on June 1! Up to $5,000 available to community garden, park, and street tree groups stewarding NYC Parks Department property. Questions? Reach out to or 212-602-5348, schedule an individual consultation or join a webinar.

A prototype of the Rockway Labyrinth Project is coming into being! This week, the NYC Parks Department and the City Parks Foundation's Partnership for Parks organized volunteers to help make this vision a reality. More here:

596 Acres

News from the Acres - April 29, 2016

29 April 2016
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” - Jane Jacobs

Last Tuesday, 596 Acres facilitated a design workshop for a long fenced-off hill in the South Bronx, a key step in turning this long-vacant public lot into Hill Street Community Garden. Want to join the community-driven design fun? Our next session will be on Sunday, June 5 at 3pm. Contact Victor,, (718) 665-4281, for details. 

This Saturday, April 30 at 12pm, join 596 Acres and Public Space Party for the Gardens are Community, Community Spaces in Jeopardy Ride! We will start in Little Italy and head through the Lower East Side into Brooklyn to visit five gardens at risk. Event details here. Facebook event page here

Help us with our website! We’re working on a snazzy new website and need your help. Come to our Gowanus office on Saturday, May 7, 4pm-6pm to play a card game that will help organize the last 5 (!) years of content. RSVP to if you can. Recruit a friend. There will be snacks and everyone will get a free gift from our collection of wonders.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - On Wednesday, Bushwick residents started planning a new community garden to replace the vacant public lot at 9 Moffat Street. This lot was nearly auctioned by the City to a private developer last year but thanks to our intervention it remains a public asset! If you want to get involved, contact Celeste at Council Member Espinal's office: (718) 642-8664 You can also sign up to Organize here:

Harlem, Manhattan - A neighbor of W 126th Street near Lenox Ave became an organizer on Earth Day. She writes: "Want to build vertical garden and green house and share it when neighboring schools in Harlem and give them some sort of Horticulture exposure to their curriculum- or something like that, anyone can come a grow." Join her! Directions are here. Sign up to Organize here: 

Highbridge, Bronx - Neighbor Dian says now is the time to organize for community access toCorporal Irwin A. Fischer Park on West 169th Street between Nelson and Shakespeare Avenues: it's a park! And it's closed! Signing up to Organize here: You can also contact Dian directly at, 3476108774 or 9295753438.

Port Richmond, Staten Island - Staten Islander Daniel wants to make a vacant public lot at Derby Court and Kramer Place into something better. Are you a neighbor who wants to get involved? Sign up to Organize here: or contact Daniel at, 347 838 1840.

Long Island City, Queens - This Saturday, April 30, 11am to 5pmSmiling Hogshead Ranch is having its PLANTING DAY! Facebook event here

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - This Saturday, April 30 at 5pmKeap Fourth Community Garden is having a meeting at the garden where you can learn how to get involved and become a member! More info on their facebook page, here

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - It’s a busy weekend at 462 Halsey Community Garden! On Saturday, April 30th, 12pm to 3pm, join in planting spring crops at the Spring Planting Party! Then Sunday, May 1, 12pm to 5pm, the garden will host the Free Black Women’s Library, Foodie Edition! The Free Black Woman's Library is an interactive mobile pop-up library featuring over 350 books authored by Black women writers. The library accepts books of every genre written by cis and trans Black women, for donation or trade - bring one! Join in May Day celebration activities throughout the day, including a May pole, music, refreshments and more! Kids and families are welcome at both events - free and open to the public! Stay in the loop on their facebook page,here.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Patchen Community Square, on the corner of Patchen and Putnam, is back in action for Spring! This Saturday, April 30th at 2pm, come by to meet and greet neighbors and garden members. More info on the Patchen Community Square facebook page, here, and on their website, here.

Red Hook, Brooklyn - The South Brooklyn Children’s Garden has started its free children’s garden classes! Classes are on Wednesdays from 3:30-pm to 4:15pm for 3 to 5 year olds until June 8th, and for 6 to 8 year olds June 29 to July 27. More info on the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden facebook page, here.

Join Green Map NYC on Saturday, May 7, 11am-1pm to explore the green side of a quickly changing neighborhood bounded by Sara D Roosevelt Park and Hamilton Fish Park from HOuston to DeLAncey (Hola!). Meet at Stanton between Forsyth and Chrystie to walk and talk with the designers who created a new Green Map: Hola LES, which juxtaposes ever-mounting development pressures alongside existing green sites and plans for the neighborhood. This tour is a Jane's Walk and an LES History Month event. RSVP here. It will end at Siempre Verde Garden (a 596 Acres site) where all are invited for cake and a Hola LES Celebration!

From May through October, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) welcomes you to joinCelebrating the City: Jane Jacobs at 100, a celebration dedicated to legendary urban activist Jane Jacobs on the 100th anniversary of her birth. Are you creating the City in your neighborhood? You can find or list an event here.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Partnerships for Parks’ next Capacity Fund Grant is due on June 1! Up to $5,000 available to community garden, park, and street tree groups stewarding NYC Parks Department property. Questions? Reach out to or 212-602-5348, schedule anindividual consultation or join a webinar.

Wanda and Joe, standing on a public lot in Rockaway that has been vacant for decades. With help from 596 Acres, they are transforming it into something way better. Wanda recently wrote: 

“I would like to take this time out to thank Paula and any one else involved in posting the lots I am Involved in and all of the pictures and valuable information connected to the lots. Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing journey we will be partaking in an letting me be come a organizer. I admit I will be new to a lot of things but I'm sure I will be helpful in many other ways. So if any one needs me as you see my e-mail is and I will be looking forward to meeting other people involved this program."

Meet them 
 sign up as an Organizer here:

596 Acres

News from the Acres - April 21, 2016

21 April 2016
la lucha continua

Saturday, April 30 at 12pm, 596 Acres and Public Space Party host the Gardens are Community, Community Spaces in Jeopardy Ride (it was postponed to this date due to rain). We will start in Little Italy and head through the Lower East Side into Brooklyn to visit five gardens at risk, following this route. Event details here. Facebook event page here.

Common Cause/NY is hiring a part-time Facilitator and Researcher for NYCommons, a collaborative project of Common Cause New York, the Community Development Project (CPD) at the Urban Justice Center, and 596 Acres.  Graphic design and mapping skills are highly desired and candidates must be able to work between 2 and 3 days a week from April through July 2016. Pay will be $15/hr and the position starts ASAP, so apply ASAP. More informationhere.

Prospect-Lefferts, Brooklyn - On April 13, 596 Acres’ Paula Z. Segal and gardeners from Maple Street Community Garden appeared again in Brooklyn Supreme Court (bottom left photograph). The order that permits the garden to grow (see onions growing, bottom right), and forbids the developers who claim they own the land from making any moves, endures –Maple Street Community gardeners have started sowing new seeds (pictured at top; more photos of the workday here). The garden is safe for now, but the struggle continues. Listen to the story: There Goes the Neighborhood, Episode 6: Trickery, Fraud, and Deception in Brooklyn, a podcast by The Nation and WNYC Studios, for an amazing radio moment: our first contact with the heirs of the family that once lived here, recorded live! 

East New York, Brooklyn - The #hpdlist drama continues. Green Valley Community Farm was one of the community green spaces announced as being permanently preserved in December 30, 2015 through a transfer to NYC Parks. In a stunning twist, the coordinators of Green Valley Community Farm learned last week that only one fifth of their site was actually on municipal record as a community green space; therefore, only a small portion of the farm was preserved through a transfer to Parks. Last week, HPD told GreenThumb that they would like get a developer to build on the rest of the lots. Follow the story and join the community in advocating for its preservation by signing up as an Organizer here: you can join this evening, gardeners meet with the New York City Community Garden Coalition at 6:30pm at the garden on New Lots and Sackman.

East Flatbush, Brooklyn - Tropicalfete, a Brooklyn-based Caribbean culture organization, is starting a campaign to transform a vacant public lot on Rockaway Boulevard and Avenue D into a place for positive cultural community programming! They say, “As we explore all possibilities, we welcome the public to be part of this venture with us.” Join them! Sign up as an Organizer here: or contact Alton at 646-504-3383 or

Melrose, Bronx - 596 Acres recruited a team of architects to design Hill Street Community Garden with local community members. Join neighbors and the design team for a discussion of what you would like to see in the hillside space on 159th street between Eagle and St. Ann's onMonday, April 25 at 5pm at New Life School, 831 Eagle Ave, Bronx, NY 10456. Join us as an Organizer: or email Victor at to get involved!

Edgemere, Queens - Ten neighbors have been gathered to begin growing plans for a vacant public lot on Edgemere Avenue between Beach 34th and 35th Streets. Plug in by signing up as an Organizer here:

Flushing, Queens - Neighbors are creating a garden on a vacant public lot to the east of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park! Alishia says, “We need more volunteers to sign up as members on our application to Greenthumb. Anyone interested, please contact me at 718-600-0121 (or to be added to our mailing list).” Or become an Organizer here:

Rockaway, Queens - Slowly but surely, a derelict City-owned property on Beach 84th Street that has been empty since 1973 is becoming something better. Join your neighbors by signing up as an Organizer or contacting them via information here:

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn: This weekend, get in on the gardening at Myrtle Village Green, located on Myrtle between Franklin and Kent. Stay connected on the MVG facebook, here.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Patchen Community Square, on the corner of Patchen and Putnam, is back in action for Spring! Mark your calendar for these upcoming events: Kids Gardening, everyMonday from 5:30 to 6:30pm - for school-aged kids who would like to help at the garden every Monday evening until it gets cold. First Work Day, April 23, 11am to 5pm - help clean up the garden for the year and in shape for the meet and greet the next weekend! Meet and Greet,April 30th, 2pm - Meet and Greet neighbors and members (co-hosted with Patchen Avenue Block Association). Save these dates: End of School BBQ, June 25th at 1pm - BBQ and fun with a slip n slide (weather permitting). Patchen Ave Block Party, August 6 - Fun! Food! Awesomeness! The block association goes all out, so stop by. More info on the Patchen Community Square facebook page, here, and on their website, here.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - 462 Halsey Community Garden is hosting the Free Black Women’s Library, Foodie Edition next Sunday, May 1 from 12pm to 4:45pm. Bring a book written by a Black woman to donate or trade. More information here. (P.S. The apiary’s queen bee made it through the winter! Photo here.)  

Bushwick, Brooklyn - BK ROT, a youth-run composting service, is now hosting regular food scrap drop off in the Know Waste Lands garden at Myrtle and Cedar on Sundays from 12:30 to 3pm. Come by! Stay in the loop on the Know Waste Lands facebook page here.

Red Hook, Brooklyn - The South Brooklyn Children’s Garden has started its free children’s garden classes! Classes are on Wednesdays from 3:30-pm to 4:15pm. From now until June 8, classes are for 3 to 5 year olds. From June 29 to July 27, classes are for 6 to 8 year olds. More info on the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden facebook page, here.

Ozone Park, Queens - Pitkin Community Garden on Pitkin and 87th Street is having three upcoming garden planning meetings! Participation in the Garden Planning Meetings is essential for the Pitkin Community Garden to actually succeed; your opinions and feedback truly matter! Meetings are Tuesday, April 26, 7:30 to 9pmWednesday April 27, 7:30 to 9pm; andWednesday, May 25, 7:30 to 9pm. All meetings will take place in Nativity Church at 101-41 91st Street, Corner of Rockaway Blvd. Please RSVP at: or 347-709-7119. We look forward to sharing and listening! Feel free to bring healthy snacks for the group! More information on Living Lots NYC, here.

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Save the date! Siempre Verde Garden is hosting a Lower East Side (LES) History Month Event - Come Protest the Great Meat Boycott - on Wednesday, May 25 from 5pm to 7pm. The Great Meat Boycott took place in May 1902 in the Lower East Side and was the first consumer boycott in America; 20,000 women took to the streets to protest the sudden increase in meat prices of meat monopolies, succeeding in getting the monopolies to lower their prices. “We’ll be remembering these ladies fondly and loudly.” More info here.

596 Acres' tools tools are being used by advocates in LA! Read about it in here. 596 Acres' Paula Segal was interviewed for a City Limits story about creating affordable housing on the city’s vacant land: "The empty spaces on the city's map—some of which are the vestiges of old urban renewal schemes—reflect failed past efforts by government to dictate the future of individual communities, Segal says, and the city must learn from its history before it builds over it." Read the full story here.

Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services (BACDYS) is offering a paid Summer Internship in Community Organizing that focuses on the development of a comprehensive community assessment of the Bangladeshi and new immigrant communities served by BACDYS within the City Line, Brooklyn, and Ozone Park, Queens neighborhoods. Part of the job includes assisting staff in the delivery of core programs and services, including the BACDYS community garden. Send resume and cover letter detailing your interests in working with BACDYS and relevant community organizing experience to with a subject “Community Organizing Intern” by May 15. More information here.

Citizens Committee for New York City is hiring a full-time program coordinator: “In short, we're looking for someone whip-smart, friendly, with strong work ethics, and a passion for supporting the self-determined projects of small community groups across NYC.” More information here.

Next Friday, April 29 at 6pm, join Picture the Homeless at 104 E 126th Street # 1B in Harlem for a Spring Potluck Patio Spruce Up and Opening! Event information here. Gardeners and gardening gear needed!

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Compost Giveback! The NYC Compost Project hosted by LES Ecology Center in partnership with Harlem Grown are having an Earth Month and Arbor Day celebration at Harlem Grown's NEW urban farm: next Saturday, April 30th, 11am to 2pm at 71-77 W 127th Street. FREE compost will be available to NYC residents and community groups on a first-come, first-served basis. The compost is loose, so those interested in getting compost will need to bring their own strong storage containers. We will not have compost storage containers or bags onsite. Doubled garbage bags, sand bags, or pails are excellent options. There will be seed starting activities and street tree care demonstrations. Questions about the event? Reach out to Vanessa Ventola: or call 212-477-4022. Event information here.

GreenThumb community gardens are eligible to win $20,000 to refresh their garden space. During Earth Month, the National Recreation and Park Association is collaborating with The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN on the Parks Build Community Contest. You can nominate and vote on parks in your neighborhood throughout the month of April. The website is here.

With help from 596 Acres, East New York's Warwick Street Greenery Glow Garden has been brought back to life! More photos of last weekend’s workday here. East New Yorkers, help steward this revived garden – contact your neighbors through Living Lots NYC:

no terminara facilmente,
596 Acres

News from the Acres - April 6, 2016

06 April 2016
blooming with you

Flowers are a sign of spring and our sings are a sign of flowers to come. Thanks so much to the Green City Force cohort (pictured above) who is following up on our workshop last week by labeling lots in all five boroughs! Organizers we met at GreenThumb's GrowTogether picked up signs for the lots in their lives in Queens and the Bronx. There are so many opportunities to transform neglected land into gardens, parks, farms and other community resources! Scroll down to News from the Organizing Acres to find a lot in your neighborhood, or look at

In March, 596 Acres was in China, in Brooklyn with youth from EcoPracticum, on Community Garden Revolution Radio and a P2P foundation Project of the Day!

596 Acres is seeking an intern who can work with us 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, May 16 to August 19. Your tasks will include putting up signs on vacant lots, helping us transition our online tools and generally helping us improve the work that we do with a focus on the New York City Community Land Access program. Applications are due by 5:59pm on Friday, April 15. Details are here.

Saturday, April 9 at 1pm, 596 Acres and Public Space Party host the Gardens are Community, Community Spaces in Jeopardy Ride, starting in Little Italy, heading through the Lower East Side into Brooklyn:

  • 1pm Elizabeth Street Garden (Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring, Manhattan): The only green oasis in Little Italy and SoHo and is in danger of disappearing to make way for City-sponsored housing construction. More here.
  • 1:45pm Children’s Magical Garden (129 Stanton St, Manhattan): A portion of the garden was illegally fenced by a private developer. Gardeners sued, claiming they owned the private parcel due to "adverse possession" (Squatters' Rights).
  • 3pm Roger that Garden (Rogers Avenue and Park Place, Brooklyn): Roger That Garden is currently under threat of being built on by a company that purchased the deed to the land for $10, subject to $244,654.07 in tax liens. Support the campaign asking the City to buy the property to preserve it as a NYC Parks garden by connecting with organizershere.
  • 3:45pm Maple Street Community Garden (237 Maple Street, Brooklyn): Sign this letter to let City Council Member Mathieu Eugene know that you support NYC Parks acquiring the Maple Street Community Garden, a crucial community space, for permanent preservation. There is a lot of story here, involving a beautiful old house, a fire, a dumping ground and a very shady developers. Learn more and connect with the organizers here or email to plug in.
  • 4:45pm Imani Community Garden (87 Schenectady Ave, Brooklyn): Gardeners are negotiating to keep a private developer from cutting down the historic willow tree in the heart of Imani and dividing the garden; connect to organizers through contact informationhere.

Flushing, Queens - Neighbors are organizing to get access to a vacant public lot to the east of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park! Alishia will be making a presentation about the potential of this space to Queens Community Board 7 next Monday, April 11 at 7pm at the Union Plaza Care Center located at 33-23 Union Street, Flushing, NY 11354. Come support! And get involved in the campaign by becoming an organizer here, or contacting Alishia at or 718-600-0121.

Rockaway, Queens - Several vacant public lots on Beach 84th Street are on their way to becoming a community garden! Thanks to our sleuthing and advocacy, a hold that NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) had on them since 2009 has been lifted. NYC Parks was then able to request jurisdiction for use as a community garden! Are you a neighbor who wants to help transform these long-vacant lots? Get involved here or email to be connected directly with your neighbors (they are a little shy!). 

Ozone Park, Queens - The future Pitkin Community Garden on Pitkin and 87th Street is having four upcoming garden planning meetings! Meeting dates: Tuesday, April 19, 7:30 to 9pm;Tuesday, April 26, 7:30 to 9pmWednesday, April 27, 7:30 to 9pm; and Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 to 9pm, all at Nativity Church at 101-41 91st Street, Corner of Rockaway Blvd. Please RSVP at or 347-709-7119. Feel free to bring healthy snacks for the group! More information here. Proposals developed at these meetings will help neighbors convince the private owner of this lot that allowing the garden is a great idea for him and for the neighborhood!

Brownsville, Brooklyn - The #hpdlist drama continues, and continues to threaten the Green Valley Garden & Community Market. We thought we had this licked in December but the administrative errors are keeping us busy - and gardeners in Brownsville fearing they will lose most of their space due to a transcription error. Watch a video news segment here here.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Addie and Chris are gathering support a to make a vacant lot on Jefferson Ave near Malcolm X Boulevard into a garden. A core group of neighbors will meet in early May. Want to be there? Become an organizer and contact your neighbors via information here or reach out to Addie,, 917-⁠749-⁠2183.
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - A neighbor contacted us and said, "I'm interested in finding out if this lot onHerkimer Street between Albany and Kingston Avenues can be developed into a community garden.” It can! Join your neighbors in making this happen by becoming an organizer here

East New York, Brooklyn - Warwick Street Greenery Glow Garden, on Warwick Street between Blake and Dumont, is ready for stewards! This garden was used in the past by Warwick Street neighbors and gardeners. It has not been used in several years and has the potential to become a flourishing community space once again. Neighbors, make it happen by connecting with one another here.

Canarsie, Brooklyn - Neighbors are working towards access to over an acre of vacant land onEast 105th Street and Farragut Road. Make it happen together: sign up to organize and contact your neighbors through information here.

Parkchester, Bronx - Help neighbors get a City-owned lot on Ellis Avenue near the Cross Bronx Expressway that has been informally a garden for years transferred to NYC Parks for permanent preservation and to facilitate community participation. Become an organizer here or contact Nilka Martell to get involved at or 347-992-2860.

Melrose, Bronx - Neighbors are coming together over their shared desire to make a long-neglected Housing Preservation and Development-controlled lot on Home Street and Southern Blvd into a garden. The first step is to get together and put a garden vision on paper, then ask for the support of Bronx Community Board 3. Join the campaign by becoming an organizer here, or contact Pramash:, 929-375-9727.

Harlem, Manhattan - Saint Nicholas Miracle Garden on 125th St and St. Nicks is having a Garden Music Series Kick-Off Party this Saturday, April 9 from 2 to 5pm! Event informationhere.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Patchen Community Square, on the corner of Patchen and Putnam, is back in action for Spring! Kids Gardening is every Monday, 5:30-7pm, first Work Day of 2016 is April 23, 11-5pm, and a meet and greet is April 30 at 2pm. And that's just the beginning! More information here.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - BK ROT, a youth-run composting service, is now hosting regular food scrap drop off in the Know Waste Lands garden at Myrtle and Cedar on Sundays from 12:30 to 3pm. Come by! Stay in the loop through the garden's facebook page here.

La Perla, a 24-year old garden on West 105th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam in the Upper West Side, will shrink but stay intact. This garden was put in jeopardy because a private land-owner owns the middle lot of the three lots of this garden, and was attempting to evict the gardeners. The other two lots are owned by Manhattan Land Trust and the NYC Parks. Gardeners have been advocating for a swap that would leave two lots next to each other for the garden, and have succeeded in their campaign! Read more here.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

This magay in Oaxaca, Mexico blooms once in its life, when it reaches 35 years of age. 596 Acres has helped neighbors create 35 new community-managed spaces in NYC. Coincidence? Most probably.

Con amore,
596 Acres

Intern With Us: Spring 2016

29 March 2016


596 Acres is seeking an intern who can work with us 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, May 16 - August 19, 2016. 

Your tasks will include putting up signs on vacant lots, helping us transition our online tools and generally helping us improve the work that we do with focus on the New York City Community Land Access program. Here's an unsolicited review from a former intern. 

This is an unpaid internship, though we would love it if someone else was paying you! In the past, we have worked with the East New York Farms! Externship program (another intern reflection is here). 

You will be working out of our office at Spaceworks (540 President Street) in Gowanus, Brooklyn at least 2 days per week. You can make your own hours and there will be opportunities for field work or research on the weekends and in the evenings.

Comfort with navigation in parts of NYC you have never visited (even if you've been nearly everywhere) is key. Willingness to talk to strangers and learn how to do tasks on the computer are equally important. 

Please send a resume and a letter of interest. Include a picture of a place your neighborhood where participation by people who live or work close by could help make it better. 

Application due by 5:59p.m. on Friday, April 15, 2016, to with the subject "Spring 2016 Intern Application."

News from the Acres - March 17, 2016

17 March 2016
on our way! 

On March 8, South Bronx residents, SoBRO staff, and 596 Acres’ Paula Z. Segal met with Department of Transportation Bronx Commissioner Constance Moran to agree to work together towards turning a huge abandoned roadbed in Melrose into Hill Street Community Garden! Are you a neighbor who wants to get involved? Join us as an Organizer: or email Victor at to get involved!

Prospect Lefferts, Brooklyn - Neighbors are urging NYC Parks to acquire the Maple Street Community Garden, a crucial community space, for permanent preservation. Now is the time to let City Council Member Mathieu Eugene know this is important to you: sign this letter, then connect with the organizers: or email to plug in.

Flushing, Queens - Several neighbors are organizing to transform a city-owned vacant lot right to the east of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park! Are you a neighbor who wants to be involved in this campaign? Become an organizer here: or contact Alishia at or 718600121 to get involved. She will be making a presentation about the potential of a garden here to Queens Community Board 7 on Monday, April 11 at 7pm. The meeting will be at the Union Plaza Care Center located at 33-23 Union Street, Flushing, NY 11354. Mark your calendar and come support! 

Bushwick/Bed Stuy, Brooklyn - Daniel is looking for other neighbors who want to turn a space onWilloughby Avenue and Stuyvesant Avenue into a garden. Want to join? Become an organizer here: or email Daniel at

Rockaway, Queens - A Rockaway-based doctor, Nancy, is gathering support for the creation of the Rockaway Labyrinth Project, a public meditation space on NYC Parks property at Beach 78th Street, between Shore Front Parkway and the Boardwalk! She wants to hear from folks who want to help make this meditation labyrinth real. Become an organizer here: or email

Trenton, NJ - This Friday, March 18, 2016, 2-3:15pm, Paula Z. Segal will be part of aconversation on opportunities for urban land conservation at the 2016 Land Preservation Rally in Trenton, New Jersey, facilitated by Isles, with Olin Studios (Philadelphia) and the Greater Newark Conservancy. The Greater Newark Conservancy facilitates community gardens on vacant public land. Last year, when the City of Newark held a Valentine’s Day land sale, several active garden sites were sold to private individuals without the knowledge of the Conservancy or the gardeners. The sites were sadly lost, highlighting how tools that connect municipal plans with land stewards remain acutely necessary.  

Bronx - 596 Acres will lead workshops on “Organizing ourselves: the basics of working in groups” at this year’s GreenThumb's GrowTogether gathering, 11:30 am to 12:45 pm and 2:15 pm to 3:30 pm this Saturday March 19, 2016, at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 10451.

Manhattan and Brooklyn - On Saturday, April 9 at 1pm at Elizabeth Street Garden in Little Italy (entrance on Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring), join 596 Acres and Public Space Party for Gardens are Community, Community Spaces in Jeopardy Ride. We will start in Little Italy and head through the Lower East Side into Brooklyn to visit gardens in danger of disappearing. Event details here.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn - Java Street Community Garden garden workday is on Saturday, March 19. Join them on Java between Franklin and West to get the garden ready for spring!

Greenpoint, Brooklyn - 61 Franklin Street Community Garden is having an open enrollment and member meeting on Wednesday, April 6 at 7pm at the garden. Stay in the loop here!

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens is getting ready for spring! Are you a neighbor? Email to get involved.

Harlem, Manhattan - Membership for the 2016 season is open at Saint Nicholas Miracle Garden! Enjoy communal and individual plots, composting, garden event space, and community. Join or renew your membership here. The Garden is also preparing for its concert series, which will resume in April or May. If you are interested in playing in one of these family-friendly shows contact the gardeners here or email

The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project, an urban rooftop farm in Hell’s Kitchen, is looking to contract an Urban Agriculture Specialist for the 2016 season to consult with us on growing techniques and related expertise for this spring. Proposals are due by March 25. For more information or to submit a proposal, email Tiffany and Joe at or call (212) 594-4464.

Urban geographer Jack Eichenbaum is leading two upcoming walks: On Sunday, April 10, the New World of the Number 7 Train walk will explore what the 7 train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service in 1914. On Sunday, April 30, the Right-of-Way of the Flushing Central Rail Road walk will go through parkland and pleasant residential neighborhoods from Central Flushing to Fresh Meadows on the phantom rails of the railroad that ran from Flushing to Hempstead for only a few years in the 1870s. Walk details are here.

Want to see where all the 1000+ lots New York City has been warehousing as "urban renewal" are? Comptroller Scott M. Stringer describes the situation really well here. 596 Acres mapped it for you last year here:

São Paulo, Brazil: 596 Acres’ Paula Z. Segal was an invited expert for a weeklong workshop with municipal employees, academics and activists in São Paulo last month: Public Policies for Transitional Spaces. What an amazing honor and what incredible company from around the world! The event coincided with the launch of's print publication Grow Your Own Food: a guide to urban faming for urban occupations of Latin America at the Centro Cultural da Ocupação São João. That guide was inspired by 596 Acres' own A New York City Advocate's Guide to Community Land Access from our print archive. You can see the full PDF here (you'll see us in the credits if you look really, really closely).

Just Food Conference, NYC: 596 Acres and the NYC Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) facilitated a Campaign Action Session: "Communities Protecting Growing Spaces in NYC" last Sunday. Gardeners who are currently facing the potential loss of their spaces told their stories including folks from East Harlem’s Friendly Garden and Pleasant Village Community Garden, Little Italy’s Elizabeth Street Garden, Bushwick’s Eldert Street Garden, and Prospect-Lefferts’ Maple Street Garden. Gardeners and the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT) told their stories of success in preserving their green spaces in their neighborhoods including members of Brownsville’s Ten Neighbors Garden, Crown Heights’ 1100 Bergen Street Garden, Bed Stuy’s462 Halsey, Lower East Side’s Siempre Verde, and Jamaica’s Merrick Marsden Neighborhood Association Garden. Photos hereSign the petition to save Maple Street Garden HERE!

Next System, NYC: Last weekend, 596 Acres also co-sponsored the Next System Project’s 2016 Conference where Paula Z. Segal facilitated a session, From Open Data to Collective Action: Living Lots! and lots of collaborators also presented (including the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative!).

Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Making Brooklyn Bloom: On Saturday, 596 Acres, the NYCCGC andFarming Concrete taught participants strategies for conveying the importance of their gardens in a workshop: "What’s So Great About Your Garden?" (photo).  

Nanjing, China: Right now, 596 Acres’ signs and posters are included in Silk Road International, an exhibition by the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts (AMNUA) from March 4 to 31. The exhibit explores contemporary art practices from around the world that engage in political economy practices with both operation systems and ideologies. Event details are here.

Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.

Community organizations in Harlem, Canarsie and Brownsville have been invited to partner in starting new farms on NYCHA campuses! Organizations will get paid up to $50,000 per year for supporting the development of these new projects. Partners are NYCHA, Green City Force and the Fund for Public Health in NY. Details are here. Applications due March 25, 2016.

Gardeners speaking UP! at the Just Food Conference. 

596 Acres