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Attorney and founder of 596 Acres Paula Z. Segal will moderate a discussion led by farmers and gardeners who are advocating to keep their spaces and/or to create new ones. Participants will learn what strategies are working in the present political context. We will plan practical paths forward to support the presenters and others across the boroughs working to keep and create community growing spaces.

Community land steward line-up (* indicates spaces that are at risk; ~ indicates spaces that are no longer at risk, whose success we can learn from) :

Organizing City-Owned Land

  • Christine Johnson of *Pleasant Village Community Garden
    Pleasant Ave between East 118th and East 119th Streets, El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan, 
    This garden is in danger of shrinking: two of its three lots were among 18 active gardens on a list of sites that the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced in January 2015 that they were willing to sell to developers for $1 each. HPD wants to “move” it. This community green space has been serving the community since neighbors made it out of abandoned land 40 years ago.
  • Rene Calvo, steward of *Mandela Garden*
    W 126th Street near Frederick Douglass in West Harlem, Manhattan,
    This garden is in danger of disappearing: the city agency with jurisdiction over the land, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), offered it to developers to build housing in December 2015, part of the Mayor’s housing plan. The lot was abandoned by the city for 3 decades until neighbors organized a successful campaign for access three years ago, heroically de-paving the lot by hand and transforming it into a community wildflower oasis.
  • Joseph Reiver and Evan Chapman of *Elizabeth Street Garden*
    Elizabeth Street between Spring and Prince Sts, Little Italy, 
    This garden is in danger of disappearing: it is on City land and gardeners are advocating to stay in the face of proposals to build a large housing development on the same site. The site was transformed from a derelict lot into a garden in 1991 when Elizabeth Street Gallery leased the site from the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
  • Barbara Adamson of ~Green Valley Community Farm~
    New Lots Ave and Sackman Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn,
    This garden is no longer in danger of disappearing: It was among 18 active gardens on a list of sites that the New York City Housing Preservation and Development department (HPD) announced in January 2015 that they were willing to sell to developers for $1 each. In the last days of 2015, after a year of organizing, the Mayor’s office announced that it was permanently preserved via a transfer to parks, with 14 other garden sites. Three months later, gardeners received an eviction notice; only one of the four public lots its on was transferred, with the rest still slated for private development. With continued advocacy, Green Valley finally won the fight at the end of last January to preserve the entire garden, including its greenhouse, via transfer to Parks for preservation (press release here)! Brownsville residents have been growing and selling food here for over 20 years.

Protecting Nonprofit & Community Land

  • Rodrigo Gonzalez and Alex Lane of *Eldert Street Community Garden*
    Eldert Street near Knickerbocker in Bushwick, Brooklyn,
    This garden is in danger of disappearing. Some members of the non profit organization that owns the land sold it illegally for a lot of money. Gardeners are working with other members of the organization to reverse the sale and preserve the garden. We successfully organized to stop eviction and got the New York State Attorney General’s Office to investigate the suspicious transfer of the deed to the garden’s land. Litigation is on-going about the underlying title to the land; we’re returning to Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 26 at 9:30am.
  • Cindy Nibbelink of *Project Harmony’s Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden*
    W 122nd Street near Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in West Harlem, Manhattan,
    This garden is in danger of shrinking: a private land-owner owns two of the four lots it’s on. The other two are owned by NYC Parks. The private landowner is attempting to evict the gardeners. It could be saved if the city buys the land from the private owner for the public good of preserving this vibrant community greenspace that neighbors created in 1985 on a vacant, rubble-strewn lot.


And more! Check back here for updates.

This discussion is being offered twice as part of the GreenThumb GrowTogether: once at 11:30am and once at 2:15pm, with slight changes in which gardeners/farmers will lead our discussion. GrowTogether is a day-long gathering of thousands of community gardeners and greening professionals from all over New York City for learning, sharing, networking and inspiring each other. So many topics to learn. Admission is $5 if you preregister here, or $7 at the door. Admission is free for kids 12 years old and younger. Call (212) 602-5300 or write for assistance. Facebook event here and event website here.


March 25, 2017
11:30 am - 12:45 pm
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(212) 602-5300


Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse
New York, NY 10451 United States
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