Best Community Gardens and Spaces in NYC

Originally posted on February 09, 2022 3:00 pm
Updated on February 08, 2022 3:17 pm

If you live in the country, where your nearest neighbor is a mile away, you can have the largest garden imaginable. Multiple vegetables and flowers could be grown and space wouldn’t be an issue. Frequent trips to the grocery store for fresh produce would be a thing of the past. 

Unfortunately, in large cities like NYC, space is a hot commodity. Many apartment dwellers who wish to have their own garden opt for products like the AeroGarden. Small plants bloom in pods, under the perfect amount of light until they blossom with your very own vegetable bounty. 

Fortunately, there are alternate options for those that seek a taste of domestic gardening bliss. Community gardens are now commonplace in NYC-you just have to know where to find them. There are over 550 community green spaces in NYC only. 

In April 1974, the first community garden started in NYC. In the early 1970s, many parts of the city struggled financially. Multiple lots became vacant and many buildings were vacant. The Green Guerillas, a local environment group, began tossing bags of seeds, fertilizer, and water into vacant areas. This grassroots program was the start of something truly beautiful and would change the landscape of NYC forever. 

The founder of the Green Guerillas, Liz Christy, continued this movement and eventually the “Bowery Houston Community Farm and Garden” was born. This first garden contained 60 vegetable beds and trees. This trend has continued and now there is a multitude of community gardens in The City. 

GrowNYC has built over 135 new gardens and some of them are GreenThumb community gardens. GreenThumb is a part of NYC Parks and they are the nation’s largest garden program found in urban areas. There are a few things to know before visiting a GreenThumb Garden. If you are interested in joining a GreenThumb garden, click here.

  • Most gardens are active between April and October
  • You can join as a member or volunteer
  • Gardeners work together to take care of maintenance tasks
  • Some gardens require a membership fee

We have compiled a list of the best community gardens in NYC. We hope that you find time to visit and/or eventually join.

El Sitio Feliz

Located in East Harlem, this community garden was founded in 1992 and was rebuilt in 2013. This massive 20,000 square foot space is home to a garden, playground, amphitheater, and pergola. The garden was heavily damaged in Hurricane Sandy and received a full overhaul after the disaster. 

GrowNYC Teaching Garden at Governors Island

This one acre urban farm is a beauty community space that aims to educate the public in all areas of urban gardening. Field trips and summer camp participants visit the Teaching Garden regularly. 

The Teaching Garden is open to the public on the weekends, during Governors Island open season. The Teaching Garden offers tours and workshops. This large garden boasts 20 raised vegetable beds made of environmentally friendly materials. Other features include a greenhouse, an outdoor kitchen, a rain garden, and fruit trees.

All People’s Garden

One of the oldest gardens in NYC, the All People’s Garden was started in 1974. The garden was originally started by a volunteer who was trying to deter drug trafficking in her neighborhood. 

A major renovation was completed in 2003. A new gazebo and mural were added and many features were refinished. The bbq patio and tool shed were overhauled and the pathways were given new pavers.

Dorothy K McGowan Memorial Garden

Located in Washington Heights, this memorial garden was founded in 1995. Dorothy McGowan was an activist who convinced the Trust for Public Land and GrowNYC to provide materials and technical assistance to the garden. 

This garden contains ornamental plants, vegetable beds, an arbor, a flagstone patio, and bluestone pathways. The garden is used by local school children for easter egg hunts and other activities throughout the year. 

Randall’s Island Urban Farm

This massive urban farm was created in 2010. This one acre farm provides schools and other groups with tremendous learning opportunities. 

The farm features 72 raised vegetable gardens. It also contains four rice paddies and a chicken coop. Some of the produce that Randall’s Island yields includes cucumbers, beans, kale, artichokes, eggplants, tomatoes, corn, and peppers. 

If you have the desire to be a part of a movement that is important to Mother Earth, consider joining a community garden. This is a great way to work with your neighbors and grow produce to serve your family. If you do not wish to grow vegetables, it’s a great way to unwind and enjoy nature at the end of a long workday. 

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