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Update on Working with Private Landowners

July 27, 2012

A lot of vacant lots in New York City are privately owned. We are starting to work with community groups and private landowners who see the benefits of having a site activated versus sitting abandoned and vacant. Two examples:

The lot that Feedback Farms (a part of A Small Green Patch) is on is owned by a private landlord. It is sandwiched between two publicly owned lots (HPD) to which A Small Green Patch has a license; when they got that license, they contacted the borough president Marty Markowitz's office for help reaching out to the private landowner -- turns out he was friend of Marty's. The private landowner is donating rent for the year and will be getting a thank you letter from our fiscal sponsor that might help on his taxes; he also hasn't gotten a single Sanitation ticket since the creation of the Farm (those were a real problem before) and gets to feel good about how he is contributing. Feedback Farms has a general liability insurance policy that covers farming/gardening activities at the site. 

The lot that One Kin Farm is on is also private land. The owner was approached by the lead gardeners on that site, who, building on 596 Acres' experience with A Small Green Patch, offered to carry an insurance policy (which we helped them arrange for free), take care of the lot and give the owner a thank you letter from a 501(c)(3). They also took him on a tour of thriving gardens in the neighborhood and generally charmed him. 

We are working with other groups who are also trying to reach out to private landowners and still others who are in the midst of negotiations. There is another private owner in Bushwick who is looking for stewards for his land now. 

The big difference is that when it's a private owner, it really is all about the relationship. If you can get a meeting with them, we can help you figure out how to frame what you can offer. 

Get in touch if you know an owner who wants his land used for public good & greening!