Green in the City
Community gardens offer respite, food and a future
By Nick Cinque
With its skyscrapers, sidewalks, cars and densely populated residential buildings, New York City doesn’t seem like a place that would have gardens—or any agricultural activities, for that matter. Lucky for us, there are gardens in New York. Here are five, to name a few.
The West Side Community Garden was established in 1976, between West 89th and 90th streets. Before becoming a garden, the location was home to a mansion that was originally owned by Charles Athrop and then changed ownership numerous times. Eventually it became a junkyard full of stripped and stolen cars—at which point the local community had had enough of the eyesore and joined together to make a community garden. Today it is a 16,000-square-foot garden that’s about two-thirds flowers and one-third vegetables—not only providing aesthetic beauty but also feeding the community.
Location: 123 W. 89th St, New York, NY. For more information, visit WestsideCommunityGarden.org
Astor Apiaries originally started off as a small hobby for a beekeeper in Queens. Today it has grown to a much larger business, with more than 50 hives across New York. The apiaries sell honey, live bees and more items made from bee products. Their website also offers many recipes that incorporate honey.
Location: The Compost Collective, Kessel Street and Yellowstone Boulevard, Queens. For more information, visit AstorApiaries.com
The Liz Christy Community Garden, founded in 1973, is the oldest community garden in New York City. Originally a large Dutch farm established in the 17th century, it fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned and torn down. Then local resident Liz Christy and a group of gardeners known as the Green Guerillas stepped in. They saw the plot of land as an ideal spot to build a community garden. The Green Guerillas applied to the city for official use of the land. Their request was granted and the land was repurposed and became a garden. It started off with 60 garden beds, then trees and flowers were added. Today the garden has grown even more, with a pond and grape arbor to name just a few amenities, providing a green escape in the city.
Location: Bowery and Houston Streets, New York, NY. For more information, visit LizChristyGarden.us
Randall’s Island Urban Farm, officially called the Randall’s Island Park Alliance’s Urban Farm, is a sustainable garden that’s 40,000 square feet, or around .92 acres. It serves as an outdoor classroom as well, teaching kids and families about self-sufficiency, rainwater collection, composting, crop rotation and more gardening concepts. The farm is quite large, with 100 raised beds, two greenhouses, and four rice paddies, as well as fruit bushes and trees and a chicken pasture. It’s great place to visit any day in the summer, when it’s open to the public.
Location: Wards Meadow Loop, New York, NY. For more information, visit RandallsIsland.org
Green City Force’s mission is to make a green city rooted in environmental, economic and social justice. It seeks to help and educate people from lower-income families, an important force for sustainable cities. The Green City Force AmeriCorps program helps young adults (18- to 24-year-olds) from the New York City Housing Authority develop a passion for the environment and their community through work in urban farming, environmental stewardship, green infrastructure and resident education. These AmeriCorps members go on to graduate and find jobs or go off to college.
Office location: 630 Flushing Ave., 8th Fl. Ste. 817, Brooklyn, NY. For more information, visit GreenCityForce.org.
Nicholas Cinque one of Teen Voices writers and is a gardener, beekeeper and fisherman. He enjoys working in his garden, hiking, fishing and boating. He writes to inspire youth to go outside more often and enjoy nature.